Summer is a great time to enjoy the outdoors and spend more time in nature. Fishing and boating allow you to release stress, relax, and enjoy wildlife.
The water is open. Take this opportunity to enjoy the outdoors and spend quality time with your family. National Fishing and Boating Week take place June 4-12, 2022.
Rivers are trails. They invite a visitor to put in and travel a distance to a destination or simply float to another landing upstream or downstream.
What is a water trail?
Water trails (also known as blueways) are marked routes on navigable waterways such as rivers, lakes, canals, and coastlines for recreational use. They allow access to waterways for non-motorized boats and sometimes motorized vessels, inner tubes, and other craft. Water trails not only require suitable access points and take-outs for exit but also provide places ashore to camp and picnic or other facilities for boaters.
What is the National Water Trails System?
The National Water Trails System is a network of water trails open to the public to explore and enjoy. National Water Trails are a sub-set of the National Recreation Trails Program. National Water Trails have been established to protect and restore America’s rivers, shorelines, and waterways; conserve natural areas along waterways, and increase access to outdoor recreation on shorelines and waterways. The Trails are a distinctive national network of exemplary water trails that are cooperatively supported and sustained.
The National Trails System Act of 1968 authorized the creation of a national system of trails comprised of National Recreation Trails, National Scenic Trails, and National Historic Trails.
National Water Trails are a subset of the National Recreation Trails. National Recreation Trails are co-sponsored by the National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service, and American Trails.
It’s a network of lake and other waterway trails designated as such by the U.S. Department of Interior. The system offers families vacation and recreational opportunities in scenic regions of the U.S.
Enjoy a trail.
Bayou Têche Paddle Trail
Location: Iberia Parish, St. Landry Parish, St. Martin Parish, and St. Mary Parish
Length: 135 miles
Driving Directions: Access points include Port Barre, Arnaudville, Cecilia, Breaux Bridge, Parks, St. Martinville, Loreauville, New Iberia, Franklin, Patterson, and Berwick
Description: The Bayou Têche is a watershed within the Mississippi River Basin draining approximately 58,500 acres of natural, agriculture, and urban lands into Vermilion Bay. Bayou Têche flows through the towns of Port Barre, Arnaudville, Breaux Bridge, Parks, St. Martinville, Loureauville, New Iberia, Jeanerette, and Charenton (Chitimacha Tribe of Louisiana lands), Baldwin, Franklin, Patterson, Berwick, and small villages in between. Each town has a standard motorboat launch and many are being equipped with floating docks designed for kayaks and canoes.
Alabama Scenic River Trail
Location: From where the Coosa River enters the state in its northeast sector to Fort Morgan on the Gulf of Mexico
Length: 631 miles
Driving Directions: Numerous boat-launches along the Coosa and Alabama Rivers
Description: The Alabama Scenic River Trail is a recreational and tourism route destination for paddled and powered boats. At approximately 631 miles in length, the trail is the longest in a single state in the U.S. The Trail begins at the point where the Coosa River enters Alabama and continues down the Coosa River to its confluence with the Tallapoosa near Wetumpka. From this conjunction, the trail follows the Alabama River to its junction with the Tombigbee/Warrior system. The Trail then proceeds along the Mobile River and through the Tensaw-Mobile delta, along the Tensaw River, and its tributaries to Mobile Bay.
Black Canyon Water Trail
States: Nevada and Arizona
Location: Clark County (Nevada) and Mohave County (Arizona)
Length: 30 miles
Location: The 30-mile water trail is assessable at three points: Hoover Dam, Willow Beach, and Eldorado Canyon.
Description: The Black Canyon Water Trail is located within Lake Mead National Recreation Area. The trip begins as the river flows at the base of Hoover Dam and meanders through 30 miles of the Colorado River where it enters Lake Mohave. Approximately 12 miles downstream from Hoover Dam, you arrive at Willow Beach, the only road-accessible portion of this stretch of river. Rental crafts are available. The river, in the next segment, becomes a lake but maintains the canyon environment with small bays and beaches appearing as you continue downstream.
Congaree River Blue Trail
State: South Carolina
Location: River trail from Columbia south and east to State Route 601 landing
Length: 50 miles
Description: Starting near Columbia, the blue trail offers paddlers an opportunity to learn about the historic significance of the area. Continuing downstream paddlers cross the fall line and enter the Coastal Plain known for its countless sandbars, high bluffs, and extensive floodplain habitats. The highlight of the trail is the section along the Congaree National Park, a protected wilderness that is home to the largest continuous tract of old-growth bottomland hardwood forest in the U.S. Paddlers and hikers alike can enjoy the network of 20-miles of hiking trails within the park and take advantage of opportunities to camp, fish, watch birds, and study nature.
Georgia Coast Saltwater Paddle Trail
Location: Saint Marys to Tybee Island
Length: 189 miles
Description: The paddle trail connects Cumberland Island National Seashore, four State Parks, six other state-protected areas, 77 Historic Sites, and other points of interest including National Monuments and city and regional parks. Saint Marys has a rich history dating back to the mid-1500s. The two points of access, Howard Gilman Waterfront Park and North River Landing allow access to the Saint Marys River and Cumberland Sound. West of Cumberland Island is the mouth of the Crooked River, home of Crooked River State Park which has a well-defined and popular kayak trail.
Hudson River Greenway Water Trail
State: New York
Location: The Hudson River from Hadley to Battery Park in Manhattan and Champlain Canal at Whitehall to its confluence with the Hudson River at Fort Edward
Length: 256 miles
Description: The Hudson River Greenway Water Trail extends from the edge of the Adirondack Park at Hadley and the head of the Champlain Canal at Whitehall to Battery Park in Manhattan. Designed for the day-user as well as the long-distance paddler, it includes 94 designated access sites. Day use attractions include wildlife marshes, islands, historic sites, cities, downtowns, and hiking trails.
Mohave Water Trail
States: Nevada and Arizona
Location: Lake Mohave and Colorado River below Davis Dam to the Laughlin/Bullhead City Bridge
Length: 76 miles
Description: The Mohave Water Trail stretches along the Arizona and Nevada shorelines of Lake Mohave and the Colorado River below Davis Dam to Laughlin/Bullhead City. It provides access to sandy beaches, scenic desert areas, and unique historic sites including submerged cultural resources. Boat rentals, shuttle, and guide service for paddle craft, scuba diving, fishing, camping, and overnight accommodations and restaurants are available at two marinas and in Laughlin and Bullhead City.
North Carolina Smoky Mountain Blueways
State: North Carolina
Location: Southwestern Mountains of North Carolina
Length: 167 miles
Description: The trail is located in the Little Tennessee Watershed and contains portions of the five major rivers: Little Tennessee, Nantahala, Tuckaseegee, Oconaluftee, Cheoah, and the lakes of Fontana, Nantahala, Glenville, and Santeetlah. The Little Tennessee River Basin encompasses the Nantahala National Forest and two National Park units—The great Smoky Mountains National Park and Blue Ridge Parkway. In the Nantahala National Forest, visitors enjoy a variety of recreational activities from camping, whitewater rafting, canoeing, fishing, hunting, hiking over 600 miles of trails, and horseback riding.
Ohio River Water Trail
States: West Virginia and Ohio
Location: The Ohio River and Little Kanawha River
Length: 57 miles
Description: The Ohio River Water Trail is accessible from Marietta and Belpre in Ohio and Williamstown and Parkersburg in West Virginia. It is crossed by Interstate 77 and US Route 50.
There are over 100 species of fish in the Ohio River including spotted bass, sauger, freshwater drum, and channel and flathead catfish. Three of the islands on the Trail are part of the Ohio River Islands National Wildlife Refuge. Visitors are welcome to pull their canoes and kayaks up onto the shore and explore these islands on foot during the day.
Okefenokee Wilderness Canoe Trail System
Location: Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge
Description: There are multiple trails available for varying degrees of experience from one to five days in length. Each trail provides opportunities for viewing wildlife in a pristine natural setting. Alligators, black bears, egrets, sandhill cranes, and other species of animals inhabit the cypress swamps and open watery prairies of the Okefenokee. Visitors can access the trail system from the Suwannee Canal Recreation Area, Kingfisher Landing, and Stephen C. Foster State Park. There is also limited access from the north to Okefenokee Swamp Park.
Tennessee River Blueway
Location: Water trail joining many sites on both sides of the Tennessee River from Chattanooga (Chickamauga Dam) downstream to Nickajack Dam.
Length: 50 miles
Description: Tennessee River Blueway encompasses a 50-mile stretch of the Tennessee River near Chattanooga. Experience Chattanooga’s bustling revitalized waterfront with its historic bridges and a few miles downstream the solitude of the Tennessee River Gorge. Pause to watch a great blue heron rookery on Maclellan Island and bald eagles in Moccasin Bend National Archeological District. Paddle in the wake of the ancients who first rippled these waters some 14,000 years ago.
Take time to listen to the voices of the earth and what they mean…the majestic voice of thunder, the winds, and the sound of flowing streams. And the voices of living things: the dawn chorus of the birds, the insects that play little fiddles in the grass.