New York City Water Trail Map Launches

NYC Parks launches a New York City water trail map and interactive guide.

Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe and Queens Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski celebrated the official launch of the NYC Water Trail Map & Guide by cutting the ribbon with Going Coastal’s Barbara La Rocca, the state Office of Parks’ Rachel Gordon, Hudson River Valley Greenway’s Mary Mangione, the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance and members of the canoe and kayak community. The map and guide features 28 kayak and canoe launch sites throughout the City and it was edited by New School Assistant Professor Robert Buchanan.

Last March, Commissioner Lewandowski, a water sports enthusiast and accomplished kayaker, led the effort to develop New York City’s water trails.

Before planes, trains and automobiles…it was boats that carried people from one place to another by way of rivers, lakes and oceans. New York City is surrounded by such bodies of water, yet its shorelines have been largely dominated by commerce and industry for centuries. One of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s highest priorities is to restore access to the City’s waterfronts and interpret the rich history of its shoreline.

“Throughout the city, parks along the shoreline are being built and renovated to reconnect the public with the water—Baretto Point Park, Brooklyn Bridge Park, Hudson River Park, Fort Totten Park and Fresh Kills Park to name just a few,” said Parks & Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe. “Among the amenities available at these parks, many have or plan to have canoe and kayak launches. To connect these sites and enhance the users’ experience and safety, I have asked our Queens Borough Commissioner, Dorothy Lewandowski—a water sports enthusiast and an accomplished kayaker—to spearhead the initiative to create a NYC Water Trail.”

“As an avid kayaker, I am delighted that the opportunities for kayaking right in my own backyard are expanding,” said Queens Borough Park Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski. “And I am thrilled to be working to create a comprehensive guide that will enable people to safely travel throughout the City via its waterways and to thoroughly enjoy their day at sea.”

The NYC Water Trail will provide information on safe and legal access to the waters surrounding all five boroughs of New York City. The project will identify park launch sites, as well as connect those to non-park launch sites. The guide will also provide recreational, educational and scenic opportunities on each leg of the trail.

This spring and summer, Parks will be collecting information, surveying conditions, photographing, and writing narratives. There are currently 18 existing public canoe and kayak launch sites on parkland with an additional 11 sites in planning and nearly 20 identified as potential sites. Borough Commissioner Lewandowski plans to travel each leg, along with project volunteers, to document the trail. Once all of the information is gathered, work on the website development of the guide will begin—with hopes to launch in the spring of 2008.

The map is a gateway to a premier recreational experience providing miles of access to paddling for New Yorkers and an exciting new way for visitors to experience the Big Apple.

Parks will be working with the Hudson River Watertrail Association, Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance and American Canoe Association. This project will rely on volunteers who understand and use the waters of New York City, as well as those who can provide information on the history, geology and points of interest along the trail. If you are interested in becoming involved in this project please contact Borough Commissioner Lewandowski’s office at 718-520-5905 or [email protected]. For more information on existing canoe and kayak launch sites in New York City parks, visit

“The shorelines of New York City offer tremendous paddling opportunities for both the beginner and advanced to explore by canoe and kayak. This printed map and guide and our updated Parks web page provides not only information on locations to paddle, but also provides links to the numerous paddling clubs and organizations, which offer programs and training on safe paddling,” said Commissioner Lewandowski. “Just as Greenways continue to make connections between neighborhoods and parklands, this Water Trail will continue to create new opportunities for persons to explore our natural environment.”

In partnership with Going Coastal, Parks developed a New York City Water Trail Map & Guide, which identifies 28 locations throughout the City where New Yorkers can legally canoe and kayak. The Parks Web site now includes an interactive map of the citywide water trail system.

ONline NYC Water Trail Map

The guide was funded by a $5,000 grant from Explore NY, a program supports the development of promotional programs using a specific thematic relationship between partners and tourism assets to generate new visitor revenue. The project received in-kind support and technical assistance from Partnerships for Parks, the City’s Department of Environmental Preservation and West Marine.

Over the past year, the canoe and kayak communities helped Parks gather information on safe launch and landing areas throughout the City. Volunteers included members from various kayak/canoe clubs and organizations throughout the five boroughs such as the Metropolitan Water Alliance, NYC Downtown Boathouse, Long Island City Community Boathouse, Sebago Canoe Club, the Red Hook Boaters and many more.

The article was originally published on Canoe & Kayak

For access to exclusive gear videos, celebrity interviews, and more, subscribe on YouTube!