Captain John Smith National Historic Trail

Replica of English ship in Jamestown, Virginia on the Captain John Smith Trail.

The Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail covers a vast network of waterways. From Chesapeake Bay to the Potomac River to Washington, DC, and many tributaries along the way, it has become the first National Historic Trail that can be followed almost entirely by kayak, canoe or other watercraft — a total of more than 3,000 miles.

Captain John Smith was an English explorer, leader of North America’s first English settlement at Jamestown, Virginia in the early 1600s. The legendary Pocahontas is also related to this trail. She is celebrated for her peace-keeping efforts during the colony’s initial conflicts with nearby tribes.

Smith had set out to chart the land and waterways of the region in 1607 and his detailed maps and writings were used by European settlers upon their arrival in the New World. Smith writes:

“Here every man may be master and owner of his owne labour and land…
If he have nothing but his hands, he may… quickly grow rich.”