There are hundreds of public access sites along the more than 2,000 mile route of the trail. However, many trail segments have large gaps with little or no easy public access for getting on or off the water. For example, along the southern shoreline of the James River there is one stretch of more than sixty miles with no public access sites. In addition, there is a growing interest in options for boat-in camping along the trail to allow for multi-day paddling trips; camping options are even more limited than public access sites.
Filling strategic gaps in trail access is a priority; this fits within the broader Chesapeake watershed goal of adding 300 new access sites by 2025. NPS collaborates with a Public Access Action Team to advance progress toward this goal and completed the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Public Access Plan in 2013 to guide overall efforts. Trail segment plans provide further detail identifying specific access priorities along river segments.
Many partners are working to increase access along the trail. NPS provides technical and financial assistance to support access site planning and development. For 2013, NPS set development of canoeing and kayaking access sites along the James, Rappahannock,Nanticoke, Potomac, Patuxent and Lower Susquehanna as its top priorities.
Access along the James River
A Plan for the James River Segment outlined a series of actions for making the trail real including several access improvements. Access sites developed over the past two years or that are now in development are advancing the plan along the James segment of the trail. These include:
Access along the Rappahannock River
Access along the Potomac & Anacostia Rivers
Along the Nanticoke River
Along the Susquehanna River
Along the Sassafras River