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How Water Trails Benefit Communities Across the United States

How Water Trails Benefit Communities Across the United States

Water trails are defined by the North American Water Trails, as “a stretch of river, a shoreline, or an ocean that has been mapped out with the intent to create an educational, scenic, and challenging experience for recreational canoers and kayakers.” Here in Lake Tahoe, we have seventy-two miles of scenic shoreline that provides an

Water trails are defined by the North American Water Trails, as “a stretch of river, a shoreline, or an ocean that has been mapped out with the intent to create an educational, scenic, and challenging experience for recreational canoers and kayakers.” Here in Lake Tahoe, we have seventy-two miles of scenic shoreline that provides an ideal spot for local recreational users and visitors alike.

water trail - paddle boarder

Water trails benefit a community the same way a bike path or a hiking trail do. They get people outdoors and learning about their environments. Community members that actively use trails or other outdoor resources tend to be environmentally conscious, and have a strong sense of social responsibility in their community. Trails also benefit local economies and encourage sustainable businesses. In Pennsylvania, a Trail Town Program surveyed 140 trail users on the Great Allegheny Passage and found that they were more likely to patronize businesses that were environmentally friendly. Businesses along the trail responded, and created a network to share ideas of how their businesses could be more sustainable, and attract more consumers.

Lake Tahoe has been successful at attracting this type of consumer and recreational user, contributing to a robust recreational economy year round. They have made it easy for water trail users and visitors to download an interactive map from Lake Tahoe Water Trail’s website, that identifies launch areas, parking, camping spots, local businesses, sandy beaches and more. It’s geotourism at its finest - creating a sustainable way for users to enjoy and sustain the geographical character of Lake Tahoe.

water trails - lake edge

Here is a list of popular water trails that might be near you!

  • Apalachicola River Paddling Trail System - Florida Panhandle

  • Maine Island Trail - Portland, Maine

  • Milwaukee Urban Water Trail - Southeast Wisconsin

  • Willamette River Water Trail - Western Oregon

  • Cascadia Marine Trail- Puget Sound, WA

Please share an experience or example of how trails promote environmental stewardship in your community.

Credits: Images by Amanda Christian. Data linked to sources.

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Alex Riemondy is a recent graduate of Florida State University with a Bachelor of Science in Economics and Environmental Studies, and a Certificate in Urban and Regional Planning. Her interests in urban planning first stemmed from a cross-country ...

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