Mathews Blueways Water Trails
Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network

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Brief Description: Mathews Blueways is an interconnected system of five separate water trails spanning Mathews County. The 90 miles of trails are particularly suited for small hand-powered craft such as canoes and touring kayaks.

Mathews County is located on the western shore of the Chesapeake Bay and offers more than 200 miles of shoreline. There are three tidal rivers and 50 navigable creeks with dozens of access sites, offering a scenic network of water and land trails to explore. Captain John Smith's shallop passed southward along the coastline of Matthews County in the darkness of the night, on July 18, 1608, staying close to the coastline to avoid the rough waters of the open Bay. Smith was injured. The previous day a cownose ray speared his wrist at the site he named Stingray Point (near Deltaville, Virginia) A few days later the shallop arrived in Jamestown, concluding Smith's first voyage of exploration of the Chesapeake, but Smith returned in August to explore the Piankatank and other rivers he had missed.

Please note that boating, canoeing, kayaking and other activities on rivers and bays can be dangerous. Obtain a water trail map and guide in advance, plan your trip, and follow all safety precautions.

Location / Directions: Mathews County is located on the western shore of the Chesapeake Bay. Obtain a Blueways guide for locating specific access points for water trails.

From Richmond: Go east on I-64 to Route 33 (West Point). Cross Route 17, and continue on Route 198 to Mathews County.

From Norfolk: Take Route 17 North to Gloucester, then Route 14 East to Mathews.

From Washington, DC: Take I-95, then Route 17 South to Glenns, then Route 198 East to Mathews.

Mailing Address: Mathews Blueways Water Trails
c/o Mathews County Visitor & Information Center
PO Box 1456
Mathews, VA 23109
Visitor Phone: (804) 725-4229
Activities: By canoe or kayak, you can view many natural and historic attractions along the Blueways—including the third-oldest lighthouse on the Bay, the oldest tide mill at Poplar Grove.

The Lower James River Water Trail will extend from the City of Richmond to the mouth of the James River in Hampton Roads with many public access points on both sides of the river. A water trail map and guide has been developed to assist boaters in traveling the river. Lighthouse is a symbol of the maritime heritage of the county.

East River Trail, covering the East River of Mobjack Bay, is the smallest of the five Blueways trails. There are many small creeks and coves to explore.

Birding and Wildlife Viewing Boat Access Fishing Canoeing / Kayaking

Fees: There are 17 launch sites that offer free access to the water trails, as well as one commercial marina that charges a small launch fee.
Visitor Facilities: You can access a kayak outfitter, local campsites, a motel, bed & breakfast inns and guest cottages from the waterways.

There are no restrooms or trash facilities on the trails; plan to use services in local communities or carry appropriate sanitary containers.

Length: 90 miles / 145 kilometers

Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network merchandise is now here and available for ordering! Check out the new Gateways store for water trail maps, books, videos and more.

Mathews County Blueways Map & GuideMathews County Blueways Map & Guide - Water trail map/guide in five separate detailed segments with an overview folder. Full color.
Price: $12.00 
Trail Map & Guide: A nicely designed Mathews County Blueways Water Trails Guide provides trail information and waterproof maps on over 90 miles of paddling routes. The guide is available from Mathews County Blueways.

Safety Info: Remember: safe use of rivers and any designated trails, at any time, is your responsibility! Water trail maps are for informational and interpretive purposes only and are not meant for navigational purposes, nor do they take into account level of skills or ability required to navigate rivers. The Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network, the National Park Service and/or the individual trail associations assume no responsibility or liability for any injury or loss resulting directly or indirectly from the use of water trails, maps or other printed or web-based materials. [View a list of water safety tips]
River Classification: Class I. Read more about the different levels of River Classifications.

Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network - Comments or Questions: Call: 1-800-YOUR-BAY