San Francisco Bay Area Water Trail

Updated September 2019

Please visit the Water Trail website to see a map of Water Trail sites (trailheads), learn more about specific sites’ amenities and accessibility features, plan a trip, and explore more about the San Francisco Bay!

The San Francisco Bay Area Water Trail (Water Trail) is a growing network of access sites (or “trailheads”)  helping people who use nonmotorized small boats and other beachable sailcraft—such as kayaks, canoes, dragon boats, and stand-up paddle and windsurf boards—to safely enjoy single and multiple-day trips around San Francisco Bay and along its tributary rivers and creeks. This regional trail is enhancing Bay Area communities’ connections to the Bay and creating new linkages to existing shoreline open space and other regional trails, such as the San Francisco Bay Trail. Site owners and managers join the Water Trail on a voluntary basis—the Water Trail does not own or manage any sites. The State Coastal Conservancy is leading the growth and development of the Water Trail in close collaboration with the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG), the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC), and the Division of Boating and Waterways (Cal Boating).

Accessibility and the Water Trail

The Water Trail’s programmatic approach to meaningfully enhancing the accessibility of water access to the Bay is guided by the San Francisco Bay Area Water Trail Accessibility Plan. The Coastal Conservancy led the development of the plan with input and guidance from many agencies, organizations, and individuals. Site owners may find the 2010 ADA Standards Excerpts for Boating Facilities Booklet (Cal Boating 2013) to be quite helpful. Site owners should also be aware that California accessibility laws are sometimes more stringent than the federal ADA laws. We are also pleased to share Issues and Recommendations for Improved Accessibility, a report prepared by Beneficial Designs, Inc.

Water Trail Grant Program

The Water Trail program accepts grant applications from eligible public agencies and nonprofit organizations for Water Trail site enhancement projects. Using funds authorized by the Coastal Conservancy for this purpose, Water Trail staff at ABAG are administering the grants. More information about the grant program is available here. Grants under this program are not currently available.

Public Meetings

Meetings at which trailhead designation decisions are made are open to the public and are held at the Coastal Conservancy at 1515 Clay Street, Oakland, CA. Agendas are posted below in advance of each meeting. Water Trail implementation meetings in 2019 are scheduled for March 8, June 14, September 20, and December 6.

Related documents:

Water Trail Implementation Meeting Agendas and Summaries

Past (2011-2018) Meeting Agendas

2019 Meeting Agendas:

Past (2011-2018) Meeting Summaries

2019 Meeting Summaries

Water Trail Sub-Committee Meetings

Meeting Agendas:


Planning and California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA)

The final draft San Francisco Bay Area Water Trail Plan (Water Trail Plan) for the Water Trail (WT) was completed by the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC) in 2007 in cooperation with the Conservancy and other public agencies and organizations. The Conservancy released a Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) on the WT Plan for public review in the summer of 2008. That 2008 DEIR was revised for clarity and to add a newly required section on the evaluation of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions potentially associated with implementation of the project. The resulting 2010 Draft Revised Environmental Impact Report (DREIR) was circulated for public review August 3, 2010 – September 21, 2010. The San Francisco Bay Area Water Trail Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR) was certified by the Coastal Conservancy on March 17, 2011. These documents are linked in the column on the right side of this page.

For more information about the Water Trail project, contact Avra Heller, Project Manager, at (510) 286-1212 or You may also want to visit BCDC’s website, where background information on the planning phase, including meeting summaries and planning documents, may be found.

Links to the Water Trail Plan and Water Trail EIR

The San Francisco Bay Area Water Trail Enhanced Water Trail Plan (2011) (Enhanced Water Trail Plan) was adopted by the Coastal Conservancy on March 17, 2011. It includes changes made to the draft Water Trail Plan (2007) developed by the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC). Download the Enhanced Water Trail Plan, including all figures, or download the text and maps separately if the file size of the integrated document is too large.

The maps (Figures 8.1.a. – 8.1.g) may be downloaded, below:

The San Francisco Bay Area Water Trail Plan Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR) was certified by the Conservancy board on March 17, 2011. The FEIR is a two-volume document. The DREIR, with links found below, is now Volume II. Download FEIR Water Trail Volume I, which includes an introduction, the responses to comments on the DREIR, the comments themselves, and the Mitigation Monitoring and Reporting Program, to have the complete FEIR.

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