Best Management Practice Category: Trail Maintenance


The water trail managers demonstrate ability to support routine and long-term maintenance investments on the water trail. Facilities are designed, constructed, and maintained by incorporating sustainability principles.


A two-page summary of key questions and examples when addressing the Trail Maintenance Best Management Practices.

Maintaining the trail

NFCT Adopt a Segment

The Northern Forest Canoe Trail has a Trail Adopter Program.

NFCT Kiosk Maintenance Agreement

The Northern Forest Canoe trail has a kiosk maintenance agreement with a partner organization.

Adopt-A-Platform Group Contract

The Roanoke River Partners have an adopt-a-platform group contract for adoption groups.

Campsite Stewardship Guidelines

The Connecticut River Water Trail has come up with a guide for developing campsites including selecting locations, working with landowners, and campsite maintenance, including a checklist of maintenance tasks to complete during campsite opening, midseason, and closing.

Adopt-A-Landing Agreement

The Waccamaw River Blue Trail's blank Adopt-A-Landing form

Launches and Access Sites

Willamette River Design Notebook

This notebook sets forth a design methodology and range of riverbank design concepts. Its main purpose is to establish a common frame of reference and common goals for all who are concerned with development at the river’s edge. It provides a tool to assist in meeting these goals in the context of dynamic biological, physical and cultural systems.

Universally Accessible Canoe and Kayak Launches

The vision: to develop a canoe and kayak launch that would expand recreational opportunities to more persons who are currently limited by the existing facilities.

Prepare to Launch! Resource

Guidelines For Assessing, Designing & Building Access Sites For Carry-In Watercraft

Water Trail Site Assessment Tool

This assessment tool will enable users to thoroughly assess launches and access sites.

Site Review Form

Another rubric for assessing access points. This one is an initial site review to determine whether the site should become an official part of the water trail.

Developing Water Trails in Iowa

See Chapter 3, Design Development, for guidelines and sample designs for launches and access sites. This resource is specific to Iowa but is adaptable for any river with similar conditions.

Inventory & Analysis of Access Sites

Inventory & analysis of access sites in support of a Lake Michigan water trail.



Dam & Portage Safety and Accessibility Checklist

A completed checklist for dam and portage safety and accessibility along the Rock River Water Trail. Checklist could be adapted for use by other water trails.

Natural Fish Ladders

Originating in Europe, "nature-like" fishways are now being constructed on some U.S. rivers where removing dams is not an option. Unlike traditional fish ladders, these passages use a natural approach aimed at significantly increasing once-abundant runs of migratory fish.


Plans and documents related to creating and maintaining water trail signs.

Delaware River Sign Plan

A plan for creating consistent signs for the water trail, including flowcharts of possible sign types and a basic description of management of a GIS-based sign database

Universal Signage Recommendations

NASBLA Paddlesports Committee universal signage recommendations.

Schuykill River Sign Design Manual

A very good sign master plan document that can be used as a reference for others creating sign design guidelines or manuals.