“Heaven and earth never framed a more perfect place for man’s habitation.” – Captain John Smith, 1612
We Directly Support the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail
The Chesapeake Conservancy is a private, nonprofit organization that funds projects that protect and restore the Chesapeake’s cultural, historic, and natural resources along the Trail and helps others connect with all that is special in the Chesapeake Bay watershed.
We support work beyond what the National Park Service could accomplish on its own, including: improving public access, supporting land conservation, conducting cultural research and environmental analysis, and providing outreach that enrich visitors’ experiences and create a sustainable future for the Chesapeake Bay watershed.
The Chesapeake Conservancy is proud to be the principal partner for trail development for the National Park Service (NPS), the lead federal agency in administering the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail. The trail commemorates Captain Smith’s exploration of the Bay in 1607 through 1609, and is the nation’s first all-water national historic trail. It provides a significant conservation, recreation and education resource that stretches over 3,000 miles and traverses most of the Chesapeake’s great rivers. In addition to providing needed recreational access to the Chesapeake and its rivers, the trail provides a framework for our work of large landscape conservation, vital to celebrate, protect and restore the Bay. Just as the Appalachian National Scenic Trail provided a framework for large landscape conservation since 1920, so can the John Smith Chesapeake Trail.
Take a virtual tour of the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail from your computer or mobile device. Enjoy the beautiful shipwrecks steeped in our nation’s history that now serve as ecological habitats at Mallows Bay. Take in the beautiful James River as it flows through Virginia or the mighty Susquehanna, the lifeblood of the Chesapeake, pouring about 20 billion gallons of freshwater into the Bay each day. We hope that the virtual tour will inspire and help plan a real trip to these beautiful rivers of the Chesapeake.
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 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 John Smith Chesapeake 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.
Smart Buoys mark the trail and provide instant information to trail travelers. See where the buoys are located and find out how to access both historic information and current weather conditions, or download our Smartbuoy App to view the buoy’s real-time information from your smartphone.
The Chesapeake Conservancy is working with the National Park Service and local partners to establish and improve public access facilities for the John Smith Chesapeake Trail that will allow visitors to get out on the water and view the same landscapes Captain John Smith experienced over 400 years ago.
Explore the access sites on the John Smith Chesapeake Trail using an interactive map available by visiting this page.