A water trail is simply defined as a path on a waterway connected through signs, maps, and access points providing a scenic and educational experience for non-motorized recreational users. In essence a water trail is the balanced blend of the existing water resource clearly described in a map and/or guidebook, partnerships to expand public waterway access, and stewardship projects to enhance shorelines and protect water quality, all working in harmony to offer a quality recreational experience, now and into the future.
The northwest region has multiple water trails in varying stages of completion. The waterways of our areas, be it rivers, bays, or sloughs, offer a natural, existing backdrop for the water trail concept. It is the devotion and collaborative work of a local community that makes a water trail come alive. Water trails highlight exceptional paddling opportunities, but also cover topics such as safety and water conditions, local history, leave no trace, outdoor education, and user etiquette. Water trails explore a myriad of local topics surrounding the use and future of our beloved waterways.
Even if your favorite paddle excursion is not yet designated an official water trail, it most likely still offers many related experiences. On the left are the northwest area’s designated water trails, where you may learn to look a bit closer, while you recreate; below are other paddling opportunities - maybe you can see how the water trail concepts apply to them. Below you can find resources to many organizations that are committed to the idea of water trails for all.