Pennsylvania Water Trails

Connecting our currents

What are water trails?

Water Trails are recreational waterways on lakes, rivers, and streams between specific destinations with access points and day-use and/or camping sites for the boating public. Pennsylvania’s Water Trails are exceptionally suited for low-impact use such as kayaking canoeing, paddling, and floating. PA Water Trails are managed by a specific entity, supported by their local communities, and serve to provide recreational enjoyment and stewardship opportunities.

Pennsylvania Water Trails program

Pennsylvania’s 29 water trails link outdoor recreation and water conservation efforts. Since 2008, the Pennsylvania Environmental Council, the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, and the National Parks Service have worked together to promote and maintain the Pennsylvania Water Trails Program’s network of creeks and rivers.

The primary goals of the program are to:

  • Encourage and facilitate the development of water trails that promote sustainable use of natural resources

  • Increase and improve access to Pennsylvania Water Trails to enhance citizen enjoyment and stewardship of local water resources

  • Strengthen the connections between and among water trails and land trails to create a networked system

  • Provide assistance and support to local water trail managers for water trail development, access enhancement, use management and community engagement.

The Pennsylvania Water Trails Program Strategic Plan, adopted in 2017, lays out steps to achieve these goals. 

Questions about the Water Trails? Contact Program Coordinator Tali MacArthur at [email protected] 

What are water trails?

Water Trails are recreational waterways on lakes, rivers, and streams between specific destinations with access points and day-use and/or camping sites for the boating public. Pennsylvania’s Water Trails are exceptionally suited for low-impact use such as kayaking canoeing, paddling, and floating. PA Water Trails are managed by a specific entity, supported by their local communities, and serve to provide recreational enjoyment and stewardship opportunities.

Pennsylvania Water Trails program

Pennsylvania’s 29 water trails link outdoor recreation and water conservation efforts. Since 2008, the Pennsylvania Environmental Council, the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, and the National Parks Service have worked together to promote and maintain the Pennsylvania Water Trails Program’s network of creeks and rivers.

The primary goals of the program are to:

  • Encourage and facilitate the development of water trails that promote sustainable use of natural resources
  • Increase and improve access to Pennsylvania Water Trails to enhance citizen enjoyment and stewardship of local water resources
  • Strengthen the connections between and among water trails and land trails to create a networked system
  • Provide assistance and support to local water trail managers for water trail development, access enhancement, use management and community engagement.

The Pennsylvania Water Trails Program Strategic Plan, adopted in 2017, lays out steps to achieve these goals. 

Questions about the Water Trails? Contact Program Coordinator Tali MacArthur at [email protected] 

News

Recent news from the Pennsylvania Water Trails program:

PEC Announces Pennsylvania Water Trail Mini-Grant Awards

The Pennsylvania Environmental Council (PEC) is pleased to announce the recipients of the Pennsylvania Water Trail Mini-Grants. These grants are awarded on a competitive basis.

The Pennsylvania Water Trail Program is administered by PEC in partnership with the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, and the National Parks Service and serves to promote and maintain the Pennsylvania Water Trails Program’s network of creeks and river.

POWR Announces Statewide Waterway Access Grants

As paddlers take to Pennsylvania waterways in ever-increasing numbers, a new mini grant program provides funding to make the Commonwealth’s rivers and streams more accessible.

The Pennsylvania Organization for Watersheds and Rivers (POWR) announces the opening of the new Statewide Waterway Access Grant Mini Grant Program (SWAG). The grant program, supported by the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) and the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, is designed to help meet growing demand for non-motorized boating opportunities. The program provides grants of up to $30,000 to create new or improve existing access points along the region’s rivers, streams, and waterways.

Water Trails

Oil Region Alliance of Business, Industry and Tourism

Contact: Kim Harris

217 Elm Street
Oil City, PA 16301

814-677-3152; Ext. 120

Allegheny National Forest
Contact: Justin Woldt

131 Smokey Ln, Marienville, PA 16239
814-927-5700

Water Trail Information and Maps

Conestoga River Club
Contact: Todd Roy
6271 Jackson Dr., East Petersburg, PA 17520
717-719-8214

Conewango Creek Watershed Association
Contact: Elizabeth Dropp
4000 Conewango Ave, Warren, PA, 16365
814-726-1441 Ext 6

Cumberland County Planning Department
Contact: Stephanie Williams
310 Allen Rd, Ste. 101, Carlisle, PA 17013
717 240 5383

Water Trail Map

Appalachian Mountain Club

Contact: Mark Zakutansky

100 Illick’s Mill Rd, Bethlehem, PA 18017
610-868-6915

Water Trail Map

French Creek Valley Conservancy
Contact: Brenda Costa
411 Chestnut Street, Meadville, PA 16335
814.337.4321
Allegheny Ridge Corporation
Contact: Jane Sheffield
Altoona, PA 16601-3309
814-932-7754

Wildlands Conservancy

Contact: Diane Motel

3701 Orchid Place, Emmaus, PA 18049
610-965-4397 ext.119

Water Trail Information and Map

Susquehanna National Heritage Area
Contact: Jonathan Pinkerton
1706 Long Level Rd.,
Wrightsville, PA 17368
717-252-0229 ext. 2

Loyalhanna Watershed Association

Contact: Susan Huba

6 Old Lincoln Hwy W., Ligonier, PA 15658

724-238-7560

Water Trail Information and Maps

Kendra King Munk

Executive Director 
Experience Armstrong, Inc. 
125 Market St. | Kittanning, PA 16201
[email protected] | www.armstrongcounty.com
724.543.4003 (office) | 724.902.8251 (cell)

Susquehanna River Trails Alliance
Contact: Mike Traxler
1845 Market Street Suite
204 Camp Hill, PA 17011
Oil Region Alliance of Business, Industry and Tourism
Contact: Kim Harris
217 Elm Street Oil City, PA 16301
814-677-3152; Ext. 120
Perkiomen Watershed Conservancy
Contact: Ryan Beltz
1 Skippack Pike
Schwenksville, PA 19473
610.287.9383
Maps and More Information  
PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources
Contact: Jim Hyland
86 Dry Run Road, Hillsgrove, PA 18619
570-924-1613
Allegheny Ridge Corporation
Contact: Jane Sheffield
Altoona, PA 16601-3309
814-932-7754
Schuylkill River Greenways National Heritage Area
Contact: Julia Hurle
140 College Drive, Pottstown, PA 19464
484-945-0200
Shenango River Watchers
Contact: Brandi Baros
730 Forker Blvd, Hermitage, PA 16148
724-342-5453

Swatara Watershed Association

Contact: Bethany Canner

20 Black Walnut Ln, Annville, PA 17003

717-821-1681

Riverways

Stefanie A. Kroll, Project Director
[email protected]
1315 Walnut St Unit 320, Philadelphia, PA 19107  
Phone: (206)-604-0750
Riverways.org

Mountain Watershed Association
Contact: Eric Harder
1414-B Indian Creek Valley Road PO Box 408, Melcroft PA 15462
724-455-4200

Resources for Managers

Designate a Water Trail

Principles

The Pennsylvania Water Trails Program has eight guiding principles:

Partnership

A water trail is the product of partnerships among an array of government and non-governmental entities. With volunteers as the key supporters and advocates of the trail, partnerships are developed among government land managing agencies, private property owners, government regulatory agencies, user groups, and local businesses. Together, these groups can create, maintain, and promote a successful water trail with broad-based and long-term support.

Stewardship

Water trails promote minimum-impact practices that ensure a sustainable future for waterways and adjacent lands. Water trails promote the responsible use and enjoyment of the outdoors. A trail user who understands their potential impact to water, soil, vegetation, wildlife, and other trail users will be a better caretaker. When users learn to protect and restore areas along the trail, they may be inclined to do likewise in their own communities and backyards.

Volunteerism

Most water trails are created, promoted, and maintained through the energy and dedication of local citizens, working individually and through organizations to support the trail. Community involvement and volunteerism are the keys to developing a sense of trail stewardship, promoting the trail within the community, encouraging respect for the trail’s natural and cultural heritage, and ensuring that local governments support the trail’s existence. Through love of place – and of good times – volunteers bring hard work and celebration to the water trail community.

Education

Through comprehensive trail guides, signage, public outreach, and informative programs, water trail organizations encourage awareness of the natural, cultural, and historical attributes of the trail. Serving as outdoor classrooms, water trails teach through seeing, listening, touching – experiencing.

Conservation

Water trail activities support the conservation of the aquatic ecosystem, contiguous lands, and important cultural artifacts. Trail builders and activists are a respected constituency advocating for resource protection and participating in resource restoration. The water trail community is a watchdog in prevention of environmentally harmful acts, striving to sustain the natural integrity of the trail and preserve the quality of the trail experience.

Community Development

A water trail is a network of recreation and educational opportunities. Hiking trails, bikeways, greenways, museums, historic sites, parks, and preserves are connected by water trails creating frontiers for exploration, discovery, and enrichment. The connections build a sense of place and bind citizens in a love for their community. When trail users take advantage of adjacent towns and amenities, they also create economic benefits for the communities.

Diversity

Water trails are non-exclusive. They benefit the able-bodied and the disabled, the young and the old, the disadvantaged and the privileged. Water trails welcome all those that want to respectfully enjoy and appreciate the trail experience. Through shared work and play, tolerance and understanding are fostered. Broad-based participation in trail activities is achieved through affirmative outreach and recruitment.

Wellness & Well-Being

Water trails are wholesome; fresh air and exercise bring fitness and health to trail users. While actively promoting these benefits, water trail users need reliable and accurate safety information and training to responsible enjoy and appreciate water trails. Safe use requires a commitment to safe design and sound management. Awareness, education, and safety skills training promote the wellness and well-being of all water trail users.