Two new websites launched by the National Park Service (www.smithtrail.net) and the Friends of the Captain John Smith Chesapeake Trail (www.friendsofthejohnsmithtrail.org) provide innovative tools for exploring the Chesapeake Bay along America’s first national water trail. Named for the adventurer whose expeditions 400 years ago put Chesapeake Bay on the map, the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail traverses nearly 3,000 miles of the Bay and major tributaries, offering endless opportunities for exploration and fun. The companion websites invite travelers to begin their trail adventures online with interactive tools for finding best places to visit the trail by water and by land; sample itineraries and things to do; and tips for planning and sharing their trail adventures.
Those who “Join the Adventure” via the primary trail website www.smithtrail.net will find interactive maps showing points of interest and access along the routes of Smith’s historic voyages. They can connect to more than 160 sites and 1,500 miles of water trails that are Gateways to Chesapeake Bay experiences as part of the Chesapeake Bay Gateways and Watertrails Network. More than half of the parks, wildlife refuges, historic sites, maritime museums, and other places that make up the Network are also partners in developing the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail. As website visitors learn about events and activities at these Gateways, they can use the helpful “My Adventure Planner” tool to customize their travel itineraries. Or they can follow numerous itineraries suggested by trail experts.
The National Park Service site (www.smithtrail.net) also includes comprehensive information on the significance of the 1607-1609 Smith voyages, the vibrant American Indian societies and cultures that populated the Chesapeake Bay region, and the natural environment of the Bay. There are also tools for becoming directly involved in the trail’s development and in hands-on projects to help restore the Chesapeake Bay.
A complementary website produced by the Friends of the John Smith Chesapeake Trail (www.friendsofthejohnsmithtrail.org) offers additional trip features, news of current events affecting the trail, and an opportunity to get involved in supporting the trail and Bay conservation. The Friends is a not-for-profit 501(c) (3) organization that facilitates support of the trail and conservation of the Chesapeake’s treasured landscapes. Free membership includes an e-newsletter with timely trail information.
The Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail was designated December 19, 2006, as part of the National Trails System. As one of the newest national historic trails and America’s first national water trail, the Smith trail is being developed through the National Park Service comprehensive management planning process. The two new websites focus on how and where visitors can already enjoy using the trail and have a voice in its development.