Wend your way through history on scenic water trails
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Wend your way through history on scenic water trails

  • COURTESY HUDSON RIVER GREENWAY WATER TRAIL

    The Hudson River Greenway Water Trail is open to recreational paddlers of all experience levels and features more than 100 designated access sites.

The National Water Trails System, a network of 22 rivers, lakes and other waterway trails, designated as such by the U.S. Department of Interior, offers families recreational opportunities and history lessons in scenic regions of the U.S. Here are five trails to consider:

1. Hudson River Greenway Water Trail, N.Y.

Make use of the website’s interactive “plan your trip” feature to craft an outing within this scenic region that stretches from the Adirondacks to Battery Park in Manhattan, N.Y. With more than 100 designated access points and campsites located approximately every 15 miles, paddlers can choose from daytrips or multiday journeys along the 256-mile trail. Look forward to exploring wildlife marshes, islands and historic sites as well as nearby hiking trails. Local outfitters, guides and equipment rentals are available to enhance your trip.

Contact: hudsongreenway.ny.gov

2. Missouri National Recreational River Water Trail, Iowa and South Dakota

How might this river have appeared to Lewis and Clark when they navigated their way along the Missouri River more than 200 years ago?

Discover for yourself as you explore some of the last remaining natural stretches of America’s longest river, on the lookout for wildlife and contemplating the significant history of the area. You’ll learn about the landscapes described in the Lewis and Clark journals and find out how the river has changed course over the years.

The trail extends from Fort Randall Dam near Pickstown, S.D., to Sioux City, Iowa, mostly within the boundaries of the Missouri National Recreational River, or MNRR, a National Park unit consisting of segments of the storied river.

Contact: mri.usd.edu/watertrail

3. Bayou Teche Paddle Trail, La.

Be on the lookout for wood ducks, herons, kingfishers and warblers as you paddle your chosen stretch of this 135-mile trail, named by the Chitimacha tribe and lined with cypress trees and live oaks dripping Spanish moss. Each town along the trail offers history, architecture, music and art worth further exploration. Choose from 13 possible access points to paddle a 7-mile route or longer stretches. Consult the website to learn about fishing opportunities, locks, portages and to help determine the appropriate route for your group.

Contact: techeproject.org/bayou-teche-paddle-trail/about-2/#

4. Great Miami River Watershed Water Trail, Ohio

In southwest Ohio, families can access 291 miles of paddling, fishing and wildlife-watching on three rivers and numerous smaller tributaries, including the Great Miami River, Stillwater River, Mad River, as well as Twin, Greenville and Buck creeks. You’ll also find whitewater and kayak parks, world-class fishing and more than 100 natural and urban parks in the region. Maps are available to help families locate the 117 public access points, bike trail information and to plan a custom adventure.

Contact: mcdwater.org/river-fun/river-trails

5. Willamette Water Trail, Ore.

Plan a daytrip or a multiday outing on this mostly flatwater, 216-mile trail that flows north from the Oregon Coastal Range, through rural landscapes, past Corvallis and Eugene, through the urban Portland area and into the Columbia River. Paddlers can access a waterproof and bound printed map or the website to find campsites, picnic areas, parks and historical points of interest and to track river features. Follow links on the website to learn about festivals and other happenings related to the trail. Guide and shuttle services are available.

Contact: willamettewatertrail.org

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