Water Trail LogoSan Francisco Bay Area Water Trail
Major funding
provided by
Coastal Conservancy logo
White wave image
  • Brochure


    The Water Trail is a regional, nine-county program implemented under the leadership of the Coastal Conservancy in close collaboration with Association of Bay Area Governments, the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission, and the California Department of Boating and Waterways.

    Major funding for the Water Trail is provided by the Coastal Conservancy.

Brochure Continued


Kayaker in a wheelchair getting into her kayak on the beach

Kayaker, by Environmental Traveling Companions

Download a pdf of the Water Trail brochure!

Wildlife Stewardship

San Francisco Bay has so much for us to learn and discover. One of the rewards of using the Water Trail is seeing an amazing diversity of wildlife. Some of these species and habitats are sensitive to humans. There are ways to boat that minimize disturbance to wildlife, rewarding the boater with observations of natural behavior. Remember to always follow Leave No Trace Principles.

Pay attention to behavior

When an animal has been disturbed, it will stop its normal activity (sleeping, eating etc.) and watch you. This behavior may escalate to “flushing” or suddenly moving away.

Paddle at a constant speed

Avoid paddling directly at animals, and when you pass by them, maintain constant direction and speed, and avoid sudden stops or changes.

Plan your trip to avoid sensitive habitat

Avoid areas where you know there are sensitive species and only land in designated areas. Respect seasonal closures and wildlife buffer distances.

Want to learn more about the wildlife and habitat you see? Our website has information on the different species and how boaters can avoid disturbing them.

Sensitive Species

California Clapper Rail

Size: Medium size, chicken-like bird
Habitat: Salt and brackish marshes
Season: Year-round resident

Brown pelicans roosting on pilings

Roosting pelicans, by Lyrinda Snyderman

California Brown Pelican

Size: Large, with extendable throat pouch
Roosting Habitat: Pilings, docks, seawalls
Season: Summer – Fall

Western Burrowing Owl

Size: Small owl
Nesting Habitat: Grasslands near the Bay shore
Season: Year-round resident

Pacific Harbor Seal

Pupping and Resting Habitat: Terrestrial sites near bay shore
Season: Year-round resident
Breeds: March – July

Nesting Herons and Egrets

Foraging Habitat: Wetlands and marshes
Nesting Habitat: Groves of trees near the Bay shore
Size: Small shorebird

Harbor seals resting on old docks

Resting Harbor Seals, by Lyrinda Snyderman

Western Snowy Plover

Nesting Habitat: Dry salt pond beds or levees
Breeding: Early spring to mid-fall

Wintering Waterfowl

Foraging Habitat: Widespread in the Bay
Season: October – April

Be Safe

San Francisco Bay is one of the busiest ports in the world, influenced by tides, currents and weather. Be aware of Bay conditions, know how to boat responsibly near other vessels, and be prepared for emergencies.

Wear a wetsuit and/or other insulating gear, a USCG-approved personal flotation device (and keep it snug), and carry emergency equipment such as radios, flares, whistles, and repair kits. Visit our website for more safety tips and links to real-time weather and tide information.

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