Water trails and blueways are used synonymously in Virginia to reference linear river and stream corridors. Water trails and blueways offer many recreational opportunities, both from the water and the land.
Virginia is blessed with hundreds of miles of high-quality recreational streams and rivers. Most streams that carry enough water to be useful during the prime recreational season are considered by law to be navigable. Navigable waters are public thoroughfares, the highways of the past. Where the lands along these waterways are privately owned, water access is only afforded by land with the permission of the landowner. The stewardship of resources and user etiquette along water trails are important to maintain positive relations with landowners along the trail.
Some riparian lands may not be suitable for outdoor recreation in order to sustain wildlife habitat. Sizeable areas of riverside land, or riparian buffers, may function for storm detention and infiltration. When riparian lands are suitable and accessible for outdoor recreation, there will likely be opportunities to link resources along the river or stream with a water trail.
Many people consider any corridor of open water used for recreational travel or string of lakes connected by portage to be a water trail. Camping accessibility by water along the route makes multi-day travel possible. Canoeing, kayaking and, in some areas, personal-watercraft use are all popular ways to enjoy water trails. óRoger Moore and Thomas Ross.
Blueways and water trails are growing in popularity and becoming valued for their recreational, educational and economic potential. Water trails and blueways in Virginia are considered managed systems of access points with support facilities to allow trail users opportunities for multi-day trips.