NPS Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance Program, provides professional assistance for water trail development
River Stories: Take a unique journey down a water trail
Why Water Trails?, by River Network, includes articles and examples by NPS
Water Trails Information, by American Trails, including water trail resources and links.
Water Trails Toolkit by Iowa DNR, an in-depth guide to developing water trails, focused on Iowa, but applicable nationwide.
Blue Trails Guide by American Rivers, A diverse listing of tools for the creation of water trails.
Water Trails Database on American Canoe Association website, Learn about and link to water trails in your state, or list your own water trail.
Sea Kayaker Magazine's Water Trail database
National Recreation Trail database, which includes many water trails.
Lasting Launches, This guide provides
design guidance for developing canoe and kayak
launches; case examples, designs, and photos are
North Carolina Paddle Tourism Study, This study was conducted by the NC State Trails Program in partnership with North Carolina State University’s School of Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management in 2008. More than 2,000 online responses were collected from paddling enthusiasts and outdoor outfitters.
Northern Forest Canoe Trail Economic Impact Study, This study looks at the economic impacts and implications for sustainable community development in the communities on the Northern Forest Canoe Trail, a 740-mile route traversing New York, Vermont, Quebec, New Hampshire, and Maine.
A Special Report on Paddlesports from the Outdoor Industry Assocaition uses the latest participation data collected annually by The Outdoor Foundation to present detailed information on participation in kayaking, canoeing and rafting by gender, age, ethnicity, income, education, and geographic region.
Studies of Water Trail Impacts on Rural Communities,A comparative analysis of rural communities with
calm water trails. Case studies illustrate impacts
of calm water trails and trends are drawn from
community ecomonic development associated with
Flows and Recreation: A Guide to Studies for River Professionals, This
guide is intended to facilitate decision-making to define
flows for recreation on regulated rivers. It provides an updated framework and methodologies for assessing flows for recreational use.
Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network - an online toolbox for developing water trails
|State Specific Water Trail Resources:
State and regional water trail information provides local connections to water trail resources, funding, and paddling opportunities.
Please let us know if your state has information on water trails that we should link to.
Southern Blueways - provides several links to state information for the Southeast
Northern Forest Canoe Trail (NY, VT, NH, ME, and Quebec)
Chesapeake Bay Gateways Water Trail maps
Rivers Alliance of Connecticut
Florida Paddling Trails
Georgia Water Trails
Iowa Water Trails
Maine Island Trail Association
Maryland Water Trails
Minnesota Water Trails
North Carolina Paddle Trails - online series on how to build a paddle trail
Ohio Water Trails
Pennsylvania Water Trails - information on safety and Leave No Trace
Oregon Water Trails
Rhode Island Blueways
South Carolina Water Trails
Texas Water Trails
Water Trails Association
West Virginia Water Trails
Water Trails Locator - additional state information
River Stories: Take a unique journey down a water trail
'Astounded by the beauty' of the Twelve Mile River (2011, SC) - a potential blueway in South Carolina
Georgia Coast Saltwater PaddlingTrail profiled in Adventure Kayak Magazine, see page 54 (2011, GA)
Delaware River Water Trail (2010, PA)
In 2010, RTCA guided a Steering Committee consisting of staff
from the Upper Delaware Scenic & Recreational River, Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor, Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission,
New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJ DEP), and American Canoe Association's Delaware Valley Division in the development of a comprehensive signage program for paddlers on the 220-mile water trail through the three states of New York, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. The signage program was based on the previously established Delaware River Water Trail Concept Plan. A $26,270 NPS Challenge Cost Share grant funded the development of the sign plan, while Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and NJ DEP funds totaling $49,000 are contributing to the development of additional plans to improve river safety, and enhance marketing of the water trail, including the creation of an interactive, trip planning web site.
Willimantic River Water Trail (2010, CT)
Willimantic River Water Trail Building on the success of Last Green Valley Source-to-Sea events in 2009, the Willimantic River Alliance requested assistance to establish a water trail. RTCA staff worked with volunteers to assess launch sites and produce an online and downloadable Paddle Guide (www.tlgv.org/preserve/watershedprojects/ water-trails.html). In the future, information distilled from access site assessments will guide stewardship improvements such as erosion control, signage, and removal of invasive vegetation. This project will also lead to a nomination for National Recreation Trail designation in 2011. The Willimantic River lies within the Quinebaug-Shetucket Rivers National Heritage Corridor (known as The Last Green Valley, Inc.). RTCA staff will continue to assist with the assessment of water trail access sites and the production of guides that encourage less experienced paddlers to explore these wonderful rivers safely.
Hawkinsville Pulaski Waterfront Park (2010, GA)
The National Park Service's Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance program and Hawkinsville Better Hometown completed a new 24-acre riverfront park offering water access points and opportunities for hiking, camping, and environmental education. The Hawkinsville-Pulaski Blueway stretches 14 miles and incorporates two public boat launches and is a vital part of the 54-mile Ocmulgee River Blueway, a water trail connecting Warner Robins and Hawkinsville, Georgia.
North Raccoon River Water Trail (2010, IA)
Over 100 supporters and future paddlers celebrated the North Raccoon River Water Trail, 160 miles of river that flow through six counties in central Iowa. Local river supporters, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources Water Trails Program, and the Raccoon River Watershed Association were joined by Iowa's Congressional delegation for a day of celebration including food, music, and fantastic paddling. The National Park Service's River, Trails and Conservation Assistance Program provided technical assistance to the Greene County Conservation Board by helping to design the detailed water trail guide map. The map includes local business information, land trails in the area, town festivals, and specific paddling routes for beginners. The project's success was due to many partners, including Central Iowa Paddlers, Iowa Whitewater Coalition, and Dallas County Conservation Board, and has inspired the creation of an online toolkit for developing other water trails.
Forked Deer River Water Trail (2010, TN)
Dyersburg residents are excited about a new River Center and a paddle trail on the Forked Deer River. The 39-mile water trail connects the North Forked Deer River to the Mississippi, and may be extended all the way to Memphis. The trail and River Center give residents a way to enjoy activities on the water and learn about the importance of a healthy local environment. It is also expected to help businesses promote their tourism, recreation, and education related products. Experts from the National Park Service Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance program helped determine the best sites for boat launches, campsites, rest stops, and sign placement while also recommending effective construction methods that keep the river safe from harm.
Levisa Fork of the Big Sandy Water Trail (2010, KY)
The Levisa Fork of the Big Sandy River has long been used to float the region's economy. This area is rich in Native American, coal mining, and logging history. Now a new water trail boosts tourism potential as well--expanded by the National Park Service, Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Department, and local partners to include a 40-mile stretch along the Levisa Fork with a new access area for boaters. To complement this effort, Floyd County became the first county in Kentucky to have a certified Swiftwater Rescue Squad and is establishing a training center to teach swiftwater rescue throughout the Southeast.
Paddlers Gather at the Lake Superior Water Trail (WI)
The official opening of the Wisconsin’s Lake Superior Water Trail was announced in
the summer of 2009, along the shores of Wisconsin’s Bayfield Peninsula.
This long sought-after trail stretches the
entire 400-mile length of Wisconsin’s
Lake Superior shoreline from Superior,
Wisconsin, to the Montreal River at the
Michigan border. The Wisconsin Water
Trail also links with Minnesota’s Lake
Superior Water Trail which follows the
shoreline to Canada.
The water trail committee consisted of
tribal, Federal, regional, and state agencies
and the Inland Sea Society and was
coordinated by the NPS RTCA program.
Apostle Islands National Lakeshore staff were part of the planning team.All public access
sites were identified and ranked for appropriate use and inclusion in the trail; gaps
in access were also identified. The trail emphasizes safe and legal access and camping
sites while highlighting the need to steward the shore’s abundant natural, cultural, and
Video from Southeastern Water Trails Forum, Nov. 2009
Days-One Hundred Miles
on the Lakes-To-Locks Water Trail
Summer Event Makes Blueway Shine:
Seattle, WA (July 2002) - Washington Water Trails
Association (WWTA) hosted a 100-mile paddle trip
of the Lakes-To-Locks Water Trail in a series
of nine day trips that took participants across
Lake Sammamish, down the Sammamish River, around
Lake Washington, and through the Chittenden Locks
into Puget Sound. NPS Rivers, Trails, and Conservation
Assistance Program sponsored the event on behalf
of the trail's 16 partners as part of their 2002
NPS Partnership in Recreation Award. Sixty-eight
paddlers traveled the route, with at least 11
paddlers participating each day. Sixteen speakers,
including mayors, park directors, historians,
and naturalists greeted the group along the way.
Congressman Jim McDermott accompanied 40 paddlers
through the locks on the ninth day. On day four,
WWTA, NPS, and the City of Kirkland installed
the first official Lakes-To-Locks sign at Houghton
Beach Park. Partnership Award monies are providing
signs at all launch and landing sites along the
water trail. For more information, please contact
Sue Abbott, Seattle, WA, at firstname.lastname@example.org
or 206-220-4116. To access the Nine Day--100-mile
Daily Web Journal, visit www.wwta.org/journal.html
River Blueway opens to much celebration
50 mile flatwater paddling opportunity
in Tennessee: Chattanooga, TN (May 11, 2002) -
This May National Park Service Director Fran Mainella,
Congressman Zach Wamp, and others marked the grand
opening of the Tennessee River Blueway. Stretching
from just upriver of Chattanooga to Marion County,
the Blueway provides a close-to-home outdoor experience
featuring designated and well-marked access locations,
campsites, and color brochure to serve as a guide.
Since spring of 2001, the Rivers,
Trails and Conservation Assistance program has
been working in close partnership with Tennessee
River Gorge Trust, which initiated the project,
and others to provide technical assistance in
the form of project organization, partnership
development, site selection, brochure development,
and trail implementation. It is envisioned that
a long-term, grassroots, self-sustaining organization
will be created to coordinate stewardship and
development of a broad network on Blueways within
the Tennessee River Watershed. For more information,
Duncan at (423) 987-6127.
Superior Water Trail,
Bayfield Peninsula/Apostle Islands Section Opens
92 mile trail links new and existing
sites, including Apostle Island National Lakeshore:
Washburn, WI (June 15, 2000)-An open house marked
the debut of a 92-mile section of the Lake Superior
water trail that opened in time for the summer
2000 season. The water trail project includes
existing sites and new sites from Port Wing, WI
to Ashland, WI, including the Apostle Island National
Lakeshore, as well as a map and brochure. The
Rivers & Trails program (RTCA) provided overall
project coordination by establishing and chairing
the advisory committee and by providing technical
assistance on water trail development and management,
funding, and public involvement. Other project
partners include: the Apostle Islands National
Lakeshore, Inland Sea Society, Wisconsin Department
of Natural Resources, University of Wisconsin
(UW) Sea Grant, UW Extension, Red Cliff Band of
Lake Superior Chippewa, Northland College, Apostle
Islands Realty. Funding for the project was received
from the Wisconsin Coastal Management Program,
the Northern Wisconsin History Center, local area
chambers of commerce, local economic development
council, and a local printer. For more information,
please contact: Angie
Tornes, Rivers & Trails Program, Milwaukee,
Two in a Series of Eastern Shore
Water Trail Maps Published
Guides provide information on
routes, paddling safety, resource interpretation
and other amenities: Worcester County, MD (June
2000)-The county and nearby Assateague Island
National Seashore (ASIS) have published the first
two in a series of water trail maps designed to
provide visitors with easy-to-use guides to canoeing
and kayaking the region's rivers and coastal bays.
The NPS-Rivers & Trails Program (RTCA) staff
researched, tested and wrote the guides, with
assistance from ASIS staff, and RTCA assisted
with design and printing. The two brochures are
"Exploring the Pocomoke River & Nassawango
Creek of Worcester County" and "Exploring
Coastal Bay & Salt Marsh Flats of Assateague
Island." Both are based on water trails that
can be navigated by relatively inexperienced paddlers.
They include maps with several route options;
basic paddling and water safety information; sources
of equipment outfitters; launching sites; locations
of parking, food, camping & toilet facilities;
any fees & reservations required; some interpretation
of the natural & cultural history of the area;
and rules for protecting fragile resources. The
water trail series is part of a regional ecotourism
partnership to promote the low impact use of Delmarva's
(the coastal peninsula consisting of parts of
Delaware, Maryland and Virginia) natural and cultural
resources to enhance local economies and to insure
the preservation of quality of life. Other goals
of the project include packaged multi-modal ecotours,
organized educational boat trips, and bike trails.
Other partners include The Nature Conservancy,
Assateague Coastal Trust, Furnace Town Foundation,
Bob O Dell Club, and Assateague State Park. For
more information, please contact: Sherry
Peck, Rivers & Trails Program, Philadelphia,
Valley River Trail
Takes Shape in Western Connecticut
Hard work by volunteers pays
off: Housatonic Valley, CT (November 2001) - Volunteers
installed two key access points on the Housatonic
Valley River Trail in November 2001. An Eagle
Scout candidate, assisted by fellow Scouts, installed
log steps on November 12 and 13, 2001. The steps
stabilize the bank and provide paddlers with a
rest stop and means to enjoy the Still River Bird
Sanctuary. On Saturday, December 1st, 35 volunteers
installed the trailhead launching site next to
a Marriott Hotel in Danbury, Connecticut. The
put-in marks the beginning of the Housatonic Valley
River Trail, which will ultimately become a 38-mile
route to Long Island Sound.
Volunteers placed 246 of the
53-pound paving blocks (6 tons) to create an apron
for launching canoes and kayaks. Other contributions
(valued at $14,000) included heavy equipment and
engineering. During the work day, the newly-acquainted
volunteers suggested creating a canoe & kayak
club. Key partners are the Housatonic Valley Economic
Development Partnership and Housatonic Valley
Tourism District. More than 35 members of the
Advisory Group represent interests from paddlers
and youth to tourism and natural history. NPS
Rivers & Trails staff helped to convene the
Advisory Group and the strategy to engage volunteers.
For further information, contact John
Monroe, Director of Connecticut Program, Boston,
MA, 617 223 5049.
Trail Connects New York's Adirondacks
With Maine's Northern Border: Rangely, ME (July
8, 1999) - Over 40 people gathered in the rain
in Rangeley, Maine's town park to dedicate 50
miles of the 740-mile Northern Forest Canoe Trail.
The dedication included a day paddle of Rangeley
Lake and a three-day paddle along the trail. The
Northern Forest Canoe Trail, a project of Native
Trails, a small nonprofit dedicated to the preservation
of pre-mechanized travel routes, stretches from
the Adirondacks of New York to northern Maine,
crossing every major watershed in the Northeast.
For the past year, the Rivers & Trails program
of the National Park Service, in partnership with
the Appalachian Mountain Club, guided an effort
in the Rangeley region to create the first Northern
Forest Canoe Trail guide and map, to identify
landowners and to sign all portages. Rangeley
Lakes Heritage Trust was the lead partner with
Maine Conservation Corps/AmeriCorps, several local
businesses, and Trails for Rangeley Area Coalition
also playing key roles. Sale of the Rangeley region
guide, published by the Rangeley Lakes Heritage
Trust, will provide funds for maintaining a portion
of the Northern Forest Canoe Trail.
Isbill, National Park Service/Appalachain
Mountain Club, Rivers & Trails Program, Brunswick,
Maine, (207) 725-5028.