A water trail, or blueway, is a stretch of river, a shoreline, or
an ocean that has been mapped out with the intent to
create an educational, scenic, and challenging experience
for recreational canoers and kayakers. The trails are
organized by local volunteers with the help of public
officials and private landowners, all of whom promote
its proper use and maintenance.
For communities across the country, water trails are
a flexible and responsive tool for promoting a healthy
economy and a high quality of life while preserving
our natural and cultural heritage. Water trails, such
as the Lakes
to Locks Water Trail, can energize individuals and
All water trails follow three guiding principles:
1. Environmental Enhancement
- natural resource conservation, preservation and
- volunteer resource stewardship by the users of the
- sensitive, sustainable, no-impact use by individuals
2. Community Livability
- citizen's rights of access to public waterways and
enjoyment of the resource
- scientific, historical and cultural interpretation,
appreciation and education
- citizen involvement, local community involvement,
action and pride
3. Personal Wholeness
- health and wellness through outdoor exertion
- character growth - building confidence and self-reliance
through outdoor skills
- spiritual growth through solitude, observation and
communication with the wilderness
On water trails, you discover....
classrooms: Water trails are perfect classrooms
and bring teachers and students to life.
history: Your community probably began at
the water's edge.
Your skills: Water
trails demand learning and growth from paddling
and map reading skills to self-confidence.
bring life and wealth to your community.
The public benefits:
Many public officials support water trails as
tools to enhance communities.
Yourself: Try a watertrail!
To find out about water trails near you, visit American Canoe Association's Water Trails database.
NPS RTCA staff have been involved in supporting water trails for the past 13 years. For more information on NPS assistance on water trails and for water trail tools, visit the NPS water trail page.