Trail News

Online Tools for Planning Your Next Paddling Get-Away

May 16, 2022

Here at Virginia Water Trails, we’re more than just trail maps.  Our site is chock full of tools and tips for planning your next “paddle-cation.”  From certified ecotour guides and safety tips to suggestions on where to eat and explore nearby, we’ve got you covered for your next paddling get-away to rural, coastal Virginia!

Interactive Maps

The trail maps of the four regions are interactive.  You can click on different features, choose which layers of information you want to view, and even open the trial map on the Google Maps app on your phone to follow along while you’re paddling!

The maps are color-coded by difficulty level (green being for beginners, red for advanced paddlers, and yellow is intermediate).  If you see a trail that looks interesting on the map, click on the actual trail and more information will pop up in the menu of the map!  Photos, points of interest, and safety tips are available for most trails.

To explore even more information on the map, click the “menu” icon in the upper left corner to show different map layers.  From here, you can choose to view all “public access” locations within the region. This even includes launch locations that aren’t on a designated water trail if you’re feeling super adventurous!

If you prefer to see a larger version of the map and all of its features, click the “expand” button in the top right corner, and the map will open in another browser tab.

Virginia Oyster Trail

Another extremely useful feature on the interactive maps is the Virginia Oyster Trail map layer.  From the menu, check the box for Virginia Oyster Trail and a whole array of lodging, dining, and attractions will populate the map.  This is the perfect way to find places to sleep, eat, and explore – full of coastal Virginia culture!  From charming BnBs and waterfront museums, to oyster farm tours and local wineries, the Virginia Oyster Trail turns your paddling get-away into a cultural and truly local experience.

Certified Ecotour Guides

If you’re not ready to venture out onto the water trails alone, or if you’re just looking for someone that is super knowledgeable about a certain facet of coastal Virginia, turn to the listings of our certified ecotour guides.  Each of the certified guides are well versed in the area of coastal ecosystems, paddling safety, coastal resilience, or Virginia history.  Many guides offer pre-planned guided tours, while others tailor their tours to your needs and the topics you’re interested in.  If you’re interested in ever becoming certified, there’s information on our next course offering listed on the site as well.

Special Events

Throughout all four regions of water trails, there are festivals and events to celebrate coastal Virginia’s heritage all year long.  The Virginia Water Trails website has an events calendar highlighting seafood festivals, arts festivals, local wine & beer festivals, and paddling events in each region.  If you’re planning a trip to paddle Virginia’s water trails, plan your trip to coincide with an event rich in the local culture.  In addition, the calendar also includes some of the scheduled tours provided by the certified ecotour guides.

Safety Tips 

If you’re just starting out kayaking or paddleboarding, you’ll definitely want to head over to the Trail Tips page.  There we have lists of important safety tips, as well as links to tide charts, water temperatures, state equipment requirements, and even water quality!  There’s also a helpful chart to determine your own personal skill level and when it’s safe for you to venture out on the water trails.  And in addition to safety, we include important advice for respecting and protecting some of Virginia’s most fragile coastal habitats.

Search the Trail News

If all of the pages explained above still haven’t provided the specific information YOU are looking for, chances are we have already published a blog post in the Trail News section. Be sure to hit the search icon and type in exactly what you’re looking for.  For example, if you want to paddle from Bethel Beach Natural Area Preserve and you just want some advice on the area, search for “bethel beach” and several blog posts that mention Bethel Beach will pop up!

Once you’ve successfully paddled a water trail and returned home safely, be sure to post your photos and tag Virginia Water Trails on Facebook and Instagram!

Happy Water Trails!

About the Author: Laura Scharle lives on the Eastern shore of Maryland and is a frequent paddler in coastal Virginia. She is a Virginia certified ecotour guide and is an independent marketing contractor with a focus in ecotourism and heritage tourism. Laura can be reached through our Eastern Shore ecotour guide listings.