Pennsylvania Water Trails

Connecting our currents

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:

  • Develop trails that promote sustainable use of natural resources
  • Increase and improve access to Pennsylvania Water Trails
  • Connect water trails to land trails

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

News

Recent news from the Pennsylvania Water Trails program.

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 Heritage Corp.
Contact: Jonathan Pinkerton
1706 Long Level Rd., Wrightsville, PA 17368
717-252-0229 ext. 2
Water Trail Information and Maps

Loyalhanna Watershed Association

Contact: Susan Huba

6 Old Lincoln Hwy W., Ligonier, PA 15658

724-238-7560

Water Trail Information and Maps

Experience Armstrong, Inc.
Contact: Cheyenne Filous
125 Market St, Kittanning, PA 16201
Oil Region Alliance of Business, Industry and Tourism
Contact: Kim Harris
217 Elm Street Oil City, PA 16301
814-677-3152; Ext. 120
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
Friends of the Riverfront
Contact: Courtney Mahronich Vita
12 Freeport Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15223
412-488-0212
Independence Seaport Museum
Contact: Katie Sniffen
211 S. Columbus Blvd., Philadelphia, PA 19106
215-413-8655

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

Management Resources

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.