Maryland Public Access, Water Trails and Recreation Planning

Kayakers paddling

The Maryland Public Access, Water Trails and Recreation Planning Program works with project partners (including local, state, and federal governments) to develop and promote water trails and public access sites for people to enjoy.

From the open waters of the Eastern Shore and the Chesapeake Bay, to the intimate meandering creeks in Central Maryland, and raging whitewater of the Youghiogheny River in Western Maryland, our state has a long history of reliance upon waterways.

Numerous places in Maryland have always attracted boaters and paddlers and the Maryland Water Trails Program provides a host of user-friendly information on how to enjoy and access Maryland’s water trails safely.

The Program

  • Coordinates the planning and development of public water access and water trails statewide.
  • Provides technical, mapping and design assistance to local governments to plan, implement, and promote water trails;
  • Tracks and reports on Maryland’s progress in achieving the Chesapeake Bay Agreement goals for establishing new water trails and expanding public access; and
  • Promotes safe and responsible boating and paddling practices

Designation as a Maryland Water Trail

Designation as an official Maryland Water Trail requires the following:

Kayakers paddling
  • The trail route must follow an identified route along a waterway or waterways in Maryland and the route must be reviewed and approved by the Maryland Public Access, Water Trails and Recreation Planning Program.
  • There must be identified public access sites along the trail route that are owned, managed and maintained by a specific entity or entities such as a municipal, local, state or federal agency, to ensure user safety, legal access and compliance with state rules, regulations and goals;
  • The trail and its associated access site(s) must be accessible and open to the general public;
  • The trail must have an existing map and/or guide;
  • The trail must have an interpretive component that: educates the boating public about state boating regulations and requirements; promotes boating safety; fosters natural resources stewardship ethics; and helps to share historical or cultural information relevant to the setting of the trail.

Officially designated water trails will be posted on the Maryland Water Trails web page and included in promotional materials.

For more information on the designation process or to request technical assistance contact Lisa Gutierrez at

Water Trails in Maryland

Through partnerships with local governments, citizen associations, and nonprofit organizations Maryland Department of Natural Resources is working to build a statewide network of water trails. To date, Maryland has over 750 miles of designated water trails and other projects are in development across the state. Click on the map below to view existing designated trails or see the Maryland Public Water Access web app.

View water trails by region by clicking on the map below