Water Trail LogoSan Francisco Bay Area Water Trail
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Coastal Conservancy logo
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  • About the Water Trail

    Not your typical trail

    The Water Trail is not a typical trail that is delineated on land or in a river, but is an organized network of access sites along the shoreline that allow for different excursions onto and around the Bay.

    Link to Water Trail Vision Map

About the Water Trail

About the Water Trail

Golden Gate Bridge

Golden Gate Bridge, by Army Corps of Engineers

A Unique Trail

The Water Trail program strives to create a network of launch and landing sites, or “trailheads,” to enable people in human-powered boats and beachable sail craft to enjoy the historic, scenic, cultural, and environmental richness of San Francisco Bay through multiple-day and single-day trips on the Bay.

The Water Trail is unique among the trails found in the Bay Area. It is not a linear trail, but a network of sites that allow people to explore San Francisco Bay in multiple ways. Perhaps you prefer to bird watch and stop for lunch at a local restaurant, or paddle to a campsite or hotel for an overnight excursion. Maybe you want to head over to your favorite windsurfing or kiteboarding spot after work, or meet your club for a practice session of rowing or canoeing. The possibilities are limitless.

This regional, nine-county program is being implemented under the leadership of the Coastal Conservancy (Conservancy) in close collaboration with the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG), the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC), and the Department of Boating and Waterways (Cal Boating), plus an advisory committee representing a broad range of interests and expertise. It is a program created by legislation (2005, Hancock, AB 1296), and based upon the vision of the non-profit Bay Access, Inc. (which wanted to ensure a future for the Bay that included adequate launching and landing facilities for human-powered boats and beachable sail craft), and a plan developed by BCDC. The program is intended to promote recreational water access opportunities and increase an appreciation of the Bay and its unique resources.

Port of Richmond

Port of Richmond, by Army Corps of Engineers

We invite you to safely explore the different types of experiences that can be found on the Bay. Some locations offer quiet and solitude – perfect for reflection and revitalization, while others offer challenging wind and wave conditions – perfect for people who prefer speed and adrenaline. Whatever your interests, there is likely a community of people that match your interest. Connecting with a group of people is a good way to learn how to boat safely, build skills, and reduce impacts to wildlife and habitat.

To find out more about the Water Trail’s history or to download documents, please visit www.scc.ca.gov. Documents from the planning phase led by BCDC may be found at www.bcdc.ca.gov.


  • Create a coordinated set of access locations allowing for single point, multiple point, and multi-day excursions
  • Improve existing boat launch facilities and develop more overnight facilities, including camping
  • Promote safe boating practices for non-motorized small boat (NMSB) users
  • Reduce impacts to sensitive wildlife and habitat and other resources through education
  • Foster stewardship of the Bay and of trailhead facilities
Bay Point Channel

Bay Point, by Penny Wells

  • Increase opportunities to recreate close to home and use public transportation rather than private vehicles
  • Reduce user conflicts among recreational users of launch sites through planning and facility design
  • Develop design guidelines for NMSB facilities that address the shoreline topography of San Francisco Bay and serve NMSB users with physical disabilities
  • Provide funding, publicity, and, indirectly, possible economic growth to site owners/managers through a variety of business opportunities related to water-oriented recreation (e.g., boat storage, rental concessions, nearby restaurants and hotels)
Coastal Conservancy logo Association of Bay Area Governments

DBW Logo BCDC-Making San Francisco Bay Better