Blueways Here to Stay | Canoeroots Magazine | Rapid Media
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Water Trails Connect Paddlers and Waterways

Water trails, blueways, canoe routes... whatever you call them, designated routes with facilities for paddlers are cropping up on waterways across the country. Presently, there are more than 150 water trails throughout the U.S. alone, with more in the works. Last year, as part of the America’s Great Outdoors Initiative, the U.S. Department of the Interior designated two rivers in each state for blueway status, giving local groups direct access to federal planning resources. 

Powell Forest Canoe Route


What’s a former timber town to do when the logging industry goes away? On B.C.’s Sunshine Coast, residents and ex loggers in Powell River have taken the future into their own hands, redeveloping their forest and lake system for the benefit of canoe enthusiasts everywhere. This five-day, 57-kilometer water trail traces a semi-circle through eight lakes, featuring soaring mountain scenery, lush coastal forest, well-equipped campsites and five portages en route.

Jefferson River Water Trail


Two hundred and seven years ago, while on expedition to map the West and reach the Pacific, Meriweather Lewis and Wil- liam Clark paddled dugout canoes up the Jefferson with a crew of 31 aided by a 16-year-old Shoshone female tracker/translator named Sacagawea. Today, members of the Lewis and Clark Heritage Foundation are working to develop a six-day canoe trail on the Jeff from Twin Bridges to Three Forks at the Missouri River headwaters, passing through the Tobacco Root Mountains en route. At pres- ent, primitive camping is permitted on gravel bars below the high water mark.

Root River Water Trail


The 80-mile Root River Water Trail runs from Preston on the South Branch to the Lower Mississippi Wildlife Refuge. Attractive campsites along the way make it easy to enjoy a relaxing multi-day trip with opportunities to stop and explore a variety of riverside villages. The route is also flanked by a paved bike path for its entire length, making a paddle and pedal trip a fun and environmentally friendly shuttle option.

Thousand Islands Water Trail


Rumrunners used the back bays and hid- den channels of the lower St. Lawrence River islands to hide from the law during U.S. prohibition. Now, those same hiding places are part of the 1000 Islands Water Trail. The trail’s nine short routes are accessible for day tripping, or link them together for an extended paddle between Brockville and the historic fort city of Kingston. Combine sections six through eight for a terrific weekend trip, staying at scenic St. Lawrence Islands National Park campsites, seeing the Ironsides heron colony, stopping off at Boldt Castle and viewing the petroglyphs at Tar Island.

Delaware River Water Trail


The Delaware River stretches 326 miles from the Catskill Mountains to the Atlantic Ocean. The upper section is a Blue Ribbon trout stream and provides some challenging whitewater, with public access and private camping facilities from Hancock to Port Jervis. The middle section from Milford through to Kittatinny passes through the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area with facilities for paddlers and campers.


This article on water trails was published in the Early Summer 2012 issue of Canoeroots magazine.This article first appeared in the Early Summer 2012 issue of Canoeroots Magazine. For more great content, subscribe to Canoeroots's print and digital editions here.


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