The Chesapeake Bay is the largest estuary in the United States and one of the largest and most productive in the world. Being an estuary is a place where salt and fresh water mix amid the ebb and flow of tides. This seemingly simple combination makes for an unusually rich and complex natural environment blessed with a great abundance and diversity of plant and animal life.
For thousands of years the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries have attracted human settlement. The Bay influenced where and how people lived in its watershed. Today’s Chesapeake Bay is the product of the dynamic interaction of people, place, nature, and the water over time—an interconnectedness that continues to shape it.
History and nature intersect in the Chesapeake Bay to create a place with endless potential for discovery. Its wonders unfold along its many winding rivers, in deep forest, in lush marshland, along scenic shorelines, and on open water. The Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail provides opportunities to explore and learn about the extraordinary Chesapeake.
The trail also provides a lens through which to view changes in the Chesapeake Bay that have occurred since Smith’s explorations of 1607-1609. The more we know about the Bay then and the Bay now, the better we will understand what part each of us has in determining the future of this national treasure. Discover more about the Chesapeake Bay: