The Southeast Coast Saltwater Paddling Trail is an unbroken marsh and river trail that meanders for hundreds of miles down America's picturesque Southeast coast, passing through several National Estuarine Research Reserves along the way. Maps and guides are available for the more than 800-mile trail that extends from Virginia through the Carolinas and down into Georgia.
NOAA's Coastal Zone Management Program, led by the Office for Coastal Management, provided funding assistance for the trail, and, together with numerous partners, has played an important role in preserving scenic and pristine areas for paddlers and other recreationists to enjoy.
The research reserve system plays an important role. This partnership between NOAA and coastal states protects more than 1.3 million acres of coasts and estuaries for research, monitoring, education, and stewardship. Trail canoeists and kayakers are reaping the benefits as the paddling trail winds through the ACE Basin Reserve in South Carolina and the Sapelo Island Reserve in Georgia, and skirts the edges of the North Carolina Reserve and South Carolina's North Inlet-Winyah Bay Reserve.
The Georgia portion of the trail was funded by the Georgia Coastal Management Program, which provides a public access site and kayak launch on Butler Island. Georgia also features a connector called the Altamaha River Canoe Trail, where large stretches of protected shoreline were funded by NOAA's Coastal and Estuarine Land Conservation Program.
In Virginia, the Seaside Water Trail, Alton's Creek boardwalk and canoe launch, and West Neck Creek's canoe access and nature trail are included. The Virginia Coastal Management Program funded all three of these projects.
"NOAA and the state coastal zone programs work hard to keep coastal areas as accessible, healthy, and resilient as possible," says NOAA staffer Elaine Vaudreuil.