Maryland, Virginia, District of Columbia, West Virginia

Potomac River Water Trail

photo: White Horse Rapid. Photo by Mary Shaw.

Length: 300.00 miles
Loop Trail? No
Type: Greenway, Water Trail
Agency: State
Entry Fee? No
     Varies by site

Parking Fee? No

Allowed Uses:

Dogs - On leash

See more details.


Location: Potomac River Basin, All of navigable Potomac River from Westernport, WV, downstream to Chesapeake Bay.

State(s): Maryland, Virginia, District of Columbia, West Virginia
Counties: Multiple
Longitude: -77.1155
Latitude: 38.69473

Driving Directions

The National Park Service provides paddling trip tools at:


The Potomac River Water Trail (PRWT) is, simultaneously, a relic of the past 9,000 years and an evolving feature of the present. As long as people have lived in the Potomac River valley, the River and its banks have been used for transportation, recreation, and livelihood. More recently, the concept of a modern water trail has been embraced by Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia as well as the Chesapeake Bay Program and the National Park Service Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network.

PRWT follows the navigable portions of the Potomac River from high in the Appalachian Mountains to the Chesapeake Bay. The trail traverses over 300 miles and its creation is a result of cooperation and the desire to highlight and preserve a regional and national treasure. The trail offers exciting opportunities to experience the varied landscapes and rich history of the Potomac River. The River transects four distinct physiographic provinces, each associated with the development of our nation and each shaped by the interaction of climate, topography, geology, flora and fauna and human activities. Our heritage is a product of these landscapes, reflecting patterns of human activity shaped by geography, both through the physical features that remain and the traditions that have evolved in them.

Across North America, the concept of water trails is becoming more popular in our region. The PRWT offers experiences from short trips to enjoy the sights and sounds of the River to prolonged excursions to explore a natural or historical theme in depth. Some choose to combine boating with other outdoor pursuits; land trails offer numerous opportunities to complement paddling and sailing excursions with bicycling, hiking, and outdoor education. The trail is used by the Alexandria Seaport Foundation to provide experiences for at-risk youth, by the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay and Interstate Commission for the Potomac River Sojourn (including scholarships for youth), by Boy Scouts and Girls Scouts, and many others. The River Sojourn and projects by the Interstate Commission and Potomac Conservancy coordinate management activities.

Additional Details

Primary Surface: Not Available
Secondary Surface: None
Maximum Grade: 90%
Elevation Low Point: Not Available
Elevation High Point: 2,680
Elevation Gain (cumulative): Not Available

Year Designated:

Supporting Webpages and Documents

Website: Maryland Public Access, Water Trails and Recreation Planning
Website: Water Trails in Maryland

Contact Information

For more information and current conditions, contact the trail manager (listed below). For questions, suggestions, and corrections to information listed on the website, contact American Trails.

Trail Management:
Lisa Gutierrez
Maryland Dept. of Natural Resources
580 Taylor Avenue, E-2
Annapolis, MD 21401
(410) 260-8778
[email protected]



White Horse Rapid. Photo by Mary Shaw.

White Horse Rapid. Photo by Mary Shaw.


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