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National Water Trail Projects


In addition to all the state and local trails, Maryland also has a number of National Trails. These National Trails are part of a network of scenic, historic, and recreation trails created by the National Trails System Act of 1968. While these trails are federally designated, they are various stages of development.

  • Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail
    (Potomac River) (Existing and Developing)

    Maryland DNR has been working in partnership with the National Park Service (NPS) and many other partners for almost 20 years to implement the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail (PHNST) in Maryland. This trail includes water and land trail components in Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania and the District of Columbia. Miles of existing trails are already open and ready for visitors, including the C&O Canal National Historic Park. Maryland DNR has created water trail maps and guides for over 300 miles of the river and is working to get the Potomac River Water Trail officially designated as a segment of the PHNST. The National Park Service has not yet completed a comprehensive management plan for the trail. For more information on the PHNST visit www.nps.gov/pohe/index.htm.


  • Captain John Smith National Historic Trail
    (Chesapeake Bay, Lower Potomac River, Nanticoke River, Tangier Sound) (Developing)

    The Captain John Smith National Historic Trail (CAJO) commemorates the exploratory voyages of Captain John Smith on the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries in 1607-1609. Although it was officially designated in 2007 as the first nationally recognized water trail in the United States, a comprehensive management plan for the trail is not yet complete. Maryland DNR is a key player in the implementation of this trail as access to the route relies heavily on existing state and local access points and resources. In 2008, Maryland DNR completed a study titled An Analysis of Public Access along the route of the Captain John Smith Historic Trail which explores Smith’s route in Maryland and examines existing and potential access and identifies gaps. Visit www.nps.gov/cajo/index.htm for more information on this trail.


  • Star-Spangled Banner National Historic Trail
    (Chesapeake Bay, Lower Potomac River, Patuxent River, Patapsco River) (Developing)

    Designated in 2008, the Star-Spangled Banner National Historic Trail (STSP) traces major events and related sites that figured prominently in the Chesapeake Campaign during the War of 1812. The story of the Star-Spangled Banner was shaped by the events of the Chesapeake Campaign from February 1813 until February 1815, when the Chesapeake Bay was the center of a fierce struggle between the British and Americans. A host of Maryland agencies and jurisdictions are working with the NPS and the 1812 Bicentennial Commission to develop this trail which will include land and water trail components as well as historical and visitor information. The NPS has begun efforts to develop an Interpretive Plan for the trail and will follow up with a comprehensive management plan. Visit www.nps.gov/stsp/index.htm for more information.

Chesapeake Bay Hotline

Call 1-877-224-7229

to report any of the following

  • Boating accident or reckless activity
  • Fish kill or algal bloom
  • Floating debris that poses a hazard to navigation
  • Illegal fishing activity
  • Public sewer leak or overflow
  • Oil or hazardous material spill
  • Critical area or wetlands violation
  • Suspicious or unusual activity