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Get your river designated an official water trail.


Kayakers enjoy the annual Kevin’s Lazy River Adventure float trip on the Big Coal River, West Virginia’s first designated Water Trail. Float sponsored by the Coal River Group. (Photo courtesy Coal River Group.)


“The Coal River Water Trail offers twenty public river access sites in Boone, Lincoln, and Kanawha counties. (Map courtesy the Coal River Group.)

Under federal law, counties are eligible for federal Department of Transportation funding after their river is designated a water trail for recreation purposes.

Communities along the Coal, Cacapon, Cheat and Elk rivers have fulfilled the requirements to become official water trails access points to the riverPortions of those rivers have been designated official WV water trails by the WV Recreational Trails Advisory Board, part of the state Dept of Transportation. That makes them eligible for more federal grants and makes it easier to move forward with other initiatives (See

In West Virginia, the WV Recreational Trails Program (RTP) administers the program for the  Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). The funds are authorized by the Safe Accountable Flexible Efficient Transportation Equity Act, which allows states to develop and maintain land and water recreational trails and trail-related facilities. The West Virginia Division of Highways administers the RTP.


Water Trails are required to mark the trail and access points. This sign is on the Upper Cheat. Photo Kate Long

States develop their own method of soliciting and funding projects.  In West Virginia, a Recreational Trail Advisory Board (RTAB) reviews applications and makes recommendations to the Secretary of Transportation and the Governor.

West Virginia’s Advisory Board was named the best such state group in the nation in 2013 by American Trails organization.

To get started working toward Water Trail designation:



The Coal River Group had the required water signage made and installed along the Coal River.

  • See what other communities have done. Here is a copy of the Cheat River Water Trail application to become a Water Trail:
  • Here is the Tucker County resolution at


    “This boat ramp, built by the Coal River Group, allows boaters to safely access the Coal River Water Trail. Ramps and access points help fulfill the Water Trail requirements. (Photo courtesy the Coal River Group.)

  • Here is more information about the Upper Cheat application:
    • Here is a list of West Virginia watershed associations, along with powerpoints from organizations that have developed water trails with
    • multiple access points:
  • The Coal River Water Trail has 20 access points in 100 miles.  There is a kiosk at each one that provides information about the river and the distance to the other kiosks.

These national groups can be helpful:


The ramp at the Ronceverte access point will help move the Greenbrier closer to Water Trail status. (Photo Kate Long)

Also see these Try This pages: Get people out on rivers and lakes, Create a watershed association, Open safe public access

Have something to add? Write it in “reply” below, with your contact info, in case we have questions.



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