San Francisco Bay Area Water Trail
The San Francisco Bay Area Water Trail is a continuously growing, non-linear trail linking various Bay Area counties. It is designed for all types of human-powered water activities, including kayaking, paddleboarding, windsurfing, and even dragon boating. Spend a day paddling around San Francisco or take a multi-day trip up the bay, setting up camp along the shore. There are numerous access points along the trail, as well as dozens of rental shops and boating clubs open to the public.
Black Canyon National Water Trail
Not only was the Black Canyon National Water Trail the Southwest's first national water trail, it's also the only one that travels through a desert. Beginning at Nevada’s Hoover Dam (where a launch permit is required), the 30-mile trail winds its way through the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, passing among steep canyons—where you can often spot desert bighorn sheep—and by historic sites and easily accessible hot springs. There are more than a dozen kayak and canoe outfitters in the area, some even offer guided tours.
Willamette River Water Trail
Flowing 187 miles along Oregon's Willamette River—along with several more miles along two fork rivers and one of the Willamette's tributaries—the Willamette River Water Trail winds past floodplain forests and open farmland, and even features a 30-foot drop at one point (portage is required to navigate this stretch). The water tends to flow fastest from Eugene to Corvallis, while the stretch from the Yamhill River through Portland is more relaxing and serene. You’ll find plenty of launch and landing points, campsites, and rental places for securing a kayak, canoe, or stand-up paddleboard.