About the Trail

About the Trail > Tools & Resources

Here are some places to find additional information for exploring the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historical Trail. More will be added as the trail evolves.

Resources are items of general interest. Tools are items primarily for partners involved in the trail.

Resources for Trail Visitors

A Boater’s Guide to the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail is an excellent way to explore the voyage routes of Captain John Smith. It’s available for free download here. This official guide produced by the National Park Service in partnership with the Chesapeake Conservancy and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, suggests trail access points and itineraries for all types of vessels and is loaded with features for safe and enjoyable boating.

For travel information, such as lodging, dining, and nearby attractions, contact the following tourism offices:

To discover more about places that are mentioned on this trail website, use the choose-a-place menu in the Visit the Trail section. These places are part of the Chesapeake Bay Gateways and Watertrails Network.

Visit the Chesapeake Bay Gateways and Watertrails Network for a complete list of the museums, parks, wildlife refuges, recreation areas, water and land trails, and other interesting places that are part of the Gateways Network. Not all of the Gateways are associated with the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail, because the Chesapeake watershed extends farther than Smith was able to travel in the shallop. But all of the Gateways have important connections to the Chesapeake Bay and are great places to visit.

You can also learn about visiting places in the Gateways Network at the following Regional Information Centers:

Resources for Armchair Explorers

A growing number of publications are available for readers interested in Captain John Smith and the Jamestown colony, the American Indian cultures, and the natural environment of the Chesapeake Bay. We’ve compiled a list of suggested readings.

But if you choose only one book from the list, it should be John Smith’s Chesapeake Voyages, 1607-1609, by Helen Rountree, Wayne Clark, and Kent Mountford. This comprehensive account of the voyages was a joint project of the National Park Service, the Virginia Department of Historic Resources, Maryland Historical Trust, and the University of Virginia Press. Read it to discover the many facets to be explored through the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail.

For news and features about the Chesapeake Bay, including occasional articles about the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail, read Bay Journal, published 10 times a year. Subscribe for free online and/or print editions.

Explore more of the history of 17th-century Chesapeake with these on-line resources:

Learn more about today’s Chesapeake Bay with these on-line resources:

For information about the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail:

Also see the collection of resources for Educators.

Tools for Trail Partners

The following materials will be useful to those who are involved in developing and interpreting the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail.

Guidance on American Indian Interpretation

Trail Planning Documents:

The trail’s comprehensive management plan and environmental assessment (CMP/EA), resulting from a two-year public planning process completed in February 2011, will guide decisions for the trail for the next 20 years. This is a large document, downloadable by chapter.

The interpretive plan for the Captain John Smith Chesapeake NHT, developed by the National Park Service as part of the comprehensive planning process, is a guiding document with resource information that trail partners can use to develop visitor experiences along the trail.

The Feasibility Study and Environmental Assessment for the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail, prepared by the National Park Service as the foundation for legislation to establish the trail. This is a large document and can be downloaded by chapter.


  • National Trails System Act (16 U.S.C. 1244)
  • Amendment to National Trails System Act to establish the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail, signed December 16, 2006
  • Executive Order 13508: Chesapeake Bay Protection and Restoration, issued May 12, 2009, includes Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail in section 7 with regard to expanded access to the Chesapeake Bay and conservation of landscapes and ecosystems.

Chespeake Bay Special Resource Study

Responding to a request from Congress included within report language for the Fiscal Year 1999 Interior Appropriations Act, the National Park Service prepared the Chesapeake Bay Special Resource Study and Final Environmental Impact Statement (SRS/FEIS) to explore the potential for a new unit of the National Park System focused on the Chesapeake Bay. The SRS/FEIS examines: whether having additional Chesapeake Bay resources within the Naitonal Park System would meet NPS criteria and would advance partnership efforts to conserve and restore the Chesapeake Bay; defines alternative concepts for how the National Park System might best represent the resources and significance of the Chesapeake Bay; and identifies a preferred alternative.

Download the entire report - .pdf (17 MB) (Note: this is a very large file and will take a significant amount of time to download, especially for those on dial-up connections)

Download individual chapters and sections:

  • Abstract - .pdf (75 kb)
  • Executive Summary - .pdf (135 kb)
  • Table of Contents .pdf (48 kb)
  • Section 1- Purpose and Need For Action - .pdf (145 kb)
  • Section 2 - National Significance of the Chesapeake Bay - .pdf (176 kb)
  • Section 3 - Analysis of Opportunities - .pdf (188 kb)
  • Section 4 - Conceptual Alternatives - .pdf (1.1 MB)
  • Section 5 - Affected Environment - .pdf (350 kb)
  • Section 6 - Environmental Consequences - .pdf (302 kb)
  • Section 7 - Environmentally Preferred Alternative -.pdf (102 kb)
  • Section 8 - Consultation and Coordination - .pdf (187 kb)
  • Section 9 - References - .pdf (69 kb)
  • Appendix A - Sub-Themes Associated with the Chesapeake Bay - .pdf (75 kb)
  • Appendix B - Comments from Federal, State and Local Government Agencies and Nongovernmental Organizations - .pdf (15.4 MB)
  • Appendix C - Suggested Places Based on Public and Agency Comments - .pdf (76 kb)

Record of Decision: Chesapeake Bay Special Resource Study & Final Environmental Impact Statement - .pdf (144 kb)


Chesapeake Bay Information:

Interactive Content

For Boaters

Boaters Guide

Download the official Boater's Guide.

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Smart Buoys

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