Klingle Road


Look over the edge of Klingle Valley Bridge on Connecticut Avenue for an eagle’s eye view of Klingle Road, or what remains of it. Twenty odd years of legal wrangling did at least as much to degrade this former arterial of Rock Creek Parkway as the 1991 storm that initially washed it out. Bureaucratic deadlock is often a boon to urban exploration – and while this former ruin is now one of the city’s newest pedestrian greenways, this is really the story of humans conceding to Mother Nature’s will. In our hubris, how often do we accept that maybe the ruin was better than the initial thing itself?

182For the better part of 25 years, one group of DC residents wished to see the 2600 block of Klingle Road restored as a convenient east-west motorway linking Reno Road and Beach Drive. An exciting return to form – a classic venue for commuter traffic in our nation’s capital!

These traditionalists were opposed by those who preferred to see Klingle Road developed along the lines of its de facto function, as a rustic pedestrian pathway through Klingle Valley into Rock Creek Park. The two factions had it out in fits and starts across two decades and any number of community meetings, case studies, and legal filings. Until this dispute was finally resolved in 2014, Klingle Road received little to no attention from municipal work crews and stood as a monument to urban neglect and indecision.

Twenty-five years after Klingle Road first closed due to storm water damage, the cratered, eroded road has finally been replaced with a formal trail for hikers and bicyclists. A permit to begin restoration of the creek bed, retaining walls, and the installation of a new water permeable trail was granted in October 2014 and “Klingle Trail Completion” was a $3 million line item in the FY2013-2018 District Capital Improvements budget.

Time and shifting attitudes about what we want in our cities – more greenspace, and less traffic, as it turns out – mean that Klingle Road has finally become Klingle Trail.

The pedestrians won out for once, as people decided they liked the ruin of Klingle Road better than the road itself – a little insight gleaned from the wisdom of Mother Nature’s fury.





Rock Creek Park

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Abandoned Washington DC by Thomas Kenning



4 thoughts on “Klingle Road

  1. This is my favorite spot in DC. I bike through it at least 3 times a week. It is a sanctuary for me. Being in DC on a trail (somewhat) and no one around. I use it to connect from the Rock Creek trail to get home at the MC Gardens. Quite often there is a police car parked at the eastern closed portion and I usually check with them if I can bike through and it is never a problem. For me ideally this should stay as it is. I am land surveyor and I did survey on this portion of Klingle about 5 years ago, back then they were considering reopening. I did set all of the boundary corners of the adjacent properties. Back when I was younger and the road was still open it always had issues with storm water flooding after even a medium rain.

    Posted by Marian Kopecky | March 12, 2014, 12:15 pm
  2. Oh and Thank you for the article and very, very interesting website!

    Posted by Marian Kopecky | March 12, 2014, 12:16 pm
  3. Marian – Thank you for your interesting story and kind words! I really enjoy hearing about other folks’ experiences in the places I love!

    Posted by Thomas Kenning | March 12, 2014, 1:30 pm
  4. I went there today, 09 May 2014. I was actually able to take several pictures that matched yours! I’ve also visited Forest Glen Seminary. As far as the door left open under the bridge. It’s still open. Who ever lived there when you were able to visit has definitely come back. The setup has become much more elaborate; to include a complex but awesome hampser cage. It felt as if I had broke into someone’s home. And, I loved most of the graffiti. There’s also a path that leads to some really great trails and staircases. Check them out. I have pictures if you’d like a copy. (Forrest Glen has gone through some wonderful updates. The redid the main building, but kept it original. Now it’s some kinda apartment comunity? Only the stuff in the back is still falling apart. I really liked the castle thingy and the hidden statues. Def worth a revisit.

    If you know of any new places for me to check out, I’d be happy to hear from you. I’m planning on checking out Forrest Haven Asylum in Larual this summer. Had to use google maps and earth to find it. Or at least I think I found it, if not, there’s another place to check out in that area!!!

    If you know of anywhere else, please email me at emmie.hancock@gmail.com Thanks!

    Posted by Emily Jane Hancock | May 10, 2014, 3:41 am

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The Book

Abandoned Washington DC – More than 350 never before seen full color photos of DC in decay, accompanied by essays on urban exploration in the nation’s capital.  This is DCinruins the way it was meant to be seen.

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