What is a Water Trail?​

A water trail, or blue way, is a stretch of river that has been mapped out with the intent to create an educational, scenic, and challenging experience for recreational canoers and kayakers. ​They allow access to waterways for non-motorized boats and sometime motorized vessels, innertubes, and other craft. ​Water trails often connect users with additional amenities ashore such as camping, wildlife viewing and other facilities for boaters.​

"A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in."  Greek Proverb

River Kayaking

New York’s Southern Tier Water Trail

New York’s Southern Tier Water Trail is a conceptual project intent on connecting outdoor recreation enthusiasts with water access in New York’s Southern Tier. The Chemung and Susquehanna river basins comprise over 190 miles of navigable waters, when combined with their tributaries, total well over 400 miles of potential water trail access. Combine that with access to the southern tips of three finger lakes and several smaller lakes and canals systems and the region has the makings of a world-class water trail system.

Water Trail Map

Water Trail Vision

Create a water-based trail system that will provide opportunities for recreation, conservation, tourism and education while preserving the natural, historic and cultural resources along the river.

• New major tourism product development

• Entrepreneurial business growth (ex. outfitter business challenge)

• Downtown revitalization

• Tool for recruiting new people to visit, live and work in region

• Vertical business opportunities
(ex. kayak manufacturing)

River Access

The Susquehanna River flows north to south through – Otsego, Chenango, Broome, Tioga, and Chemung counties with tributaries in Cortland, Delaware, Madison and Schoharie counties. The Chemung River flows north to south through Steuben and Chemung counites with several tributaries in Steuben. Within the two watersheds there are approximately 150 public access points for water sports enthusiasts to put in and take out along the river system.


A coalition of regional Tourism Promotion Agencies are currently partnering on developing the New York’s Southern Tier Water Trail with the support of the National Park Service Rivers, Trails, Conservation Assistance Program.  To find out more and to get involved please contact Kevin Peterson at kpeterson@corningfingerlakes.com or call (607) 936-6544.

Photo Credit: Southern Tier Kayak Tours


Project Document Downloads