Gateways and Watertrails

Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network
The Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network consists of over 130 sites that offer iconic Chesapeake Bay experiences. They include state parks, local museums, kayaking trails, wildlife refuges, and historic sites that allow a visitor the chance to explore and experience the life and culture of the Chesapeake Bay.

The Chesapeake Conservancy stays true to its roots by helping to expand the Gateways Network and continually advocate for funding of this important program from Congress. The Conservancy was formed out of a merger between the Friends of the Capt. John Smith Trail and Friends of Chesapeake Gateways. To find out more about the Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network or to find a Gateway near you, visit


Water Trails
In addition to the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail, the Chesapeake Bay region is home to dozens of other water trails and paddling opportunities, from the Chemung River in New York State to the Elizabeth River in Virginia Beach and everything in-between. Click on one of the states on the map below to see what it has to offer. Please note that boating, canoeing, kayaking and other activities on rivers can be dangerous. Plan your trip carefully and follow all safety precautions.

Click a state on the map below to learn more about local watertrails!

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To learn more about our other programs, click one of the links below:

Public Access Projects

More than 100,000 streams, creeks and rivers thread through the Chesapeake Bay watershed; yet citizens still struggle to find places where they can access these waterways. Significant stretches of shoreline have little or no access, making it difficult to plan trips along water trails and preventing people from accessing waterways in their own backyards. The Conservancy is working hard to create new public access sites to connect people to the Bay and its rivers.

River Corridors

The Chesapeake’s great rivers and the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail provide the Conservancy with an education and conservation planning framework, highlighting the importance of history and culture, as well as wildlife and habitat, to protect vital resources in the Chesapeake.

The Conservancy is engaged in river-centered projects throughout the Chesapeake watershed. These projects take different forms, but each seeks to create a vision for the future of the river through public engagement that will guide conservation, education, and public access work throughout the corridor.

Boater’s Guide

Now you can explore the Chesapeake Bay as Captain John Smith did – by boat! But, luckily for you, this adventure is accessible to all vessels and skill levels, and you will Explore the Chesapeake's Rivers using the Boater's Guide!have the expertise of John Page Williams by your side.

A Boater’s Guide to the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail is a free online publication that introduces paddlers, skiffers and cruisers to exploration of the Capt. John Smith trail. Gain practical information about trailheads, trip itineraries, and water conditions interwoven with the historical context of the Chesapeake’s waters explored by Captain John Smith four centuries ago.