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Date: September 12, 2001

100-mile water trail provides information and access to the lower Potomac - "A River of History"

(RICHMOND) - Increased enjoyment of the Potomac River and more opportunities for river-related tourism dollars are among the intended results of the new Potomac River water trail. A packaged set of six maps covers 100 miles of river from the Nation's Capital to the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay and a total of 89 sites in Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia.

The Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) developed the Potomac River water trail as a joint project. DCR received a matching grant from the National Park Service to develop the trail as part of the Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network, a system of water trails, parks, refuges and other maritime sites in the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

"The Potomac River Water Trail is one of the country's first water trails being developed jointly by two states in cooperation with the National Park Service," said DCR Director David G. Brickley. "Recognized as an American Heritage River, the Potomac has the natural and historic resources to make this a trail a world-class attraction."

"Nationally, water trails are becoming one of the most popular components of the growing eco-tourism trade," said Verna E. Harrison, Assistant Secretary of Chesapeake Bay and Watershed Programs for the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. "Providing an enhanced recreational and educational experience also helps foster a greater appreciation for our waterways."

The six-map set highlights access points from D.C. to the Chesapeake along both sides of the river. Information is provided on each access point including the availability of restrooms, boating facilities, historical interest, overnight accommodations, camping and food service. It is one of the first water trail guides to include GPS (Global Positioning System) information on access sites. The guides also include boating safety tips and emergency phone numbers.

"This is a guide that every boater, kayaker and canoeist will want to keep on hand," said Brickley. "It will become an invaluable part of any trip along this part of the Potomac."

Planners from DCR and DNR met with local government officials, chambers of commerce and others to develop the trail's concept and details for the map guides. Many of the 89 access sites included in the maps are locally owned and operated. Local attractions are seen as one of the primary beneficiaries of the new guide.

In addition, the water trail helps meet the public access commitments in the new Chesapeake Bay Agreement - Chesapeake 2000. Virginia, Maryland and the National Park Service are all members of the cooperative Chesapeake Bay Program, a watershed partnership to restore and protect the Bay and its rivers.

The guides can be purchased for $5 at Virginia and Maryland state parks along the Potomac River. Maps can also be ordered by calling the Virginia DCR reservation center at 1-800-933-PARK or by calling the Maryland Greenway Commission at (410) 260-8780. Handling and postage will be charged for maps ordered by phone.

For more information on water trails or other outdoor recreation opportunities visit the Virginia DCR website at, the Maryland DNR site at or the Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network site at


Locations where the Potomac River Water Trail map guides are available:

  • Maryland: Smallwood and Point Lookout state parks
  • Virginia: Mason Neck State Park, Fairfax; Leesylvania State Park, Prince William; Caledon
  • Natural Area, King George; Westmoreland State Park, Westmoreland

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