San Francisco Bay Area Water Trail

Updated October 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).

Water Trail Implementation 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. 2021’s Water Trail implementation meetings will be held from 10am-1pm on Fridays, March 5, June 11, September 10, and December 10.

For past meeting agendas and summaries please contact Avra Heller by email at avra.heller@scc.ca.gov.

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 (available upon request). 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.

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 will be posted here. Grants under this program are not currently available.

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 the 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 available upon request.

For more information about the Water Trail project, contact Avra Heller, Project Manager, at (510) 286-1212 or avra.heller@scc.ca.gov. 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.

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