Remember: It is your responsibility to have the necessary skills, knowledge, and
equipment for a safe and environmentally sensitive visit. The Paddling
Trails map (sold at the Blackwater NWR Visitor Center) provides a guide to local wildlife, important trail and navigation information, additional safety and paddling tips, and a list of
recommended supplies for your trip. We strongly suggest that you purchase a map, and
always keep in mind that Blackwater is a wildlife refuge. Thank you!
- Disembark from your canoe/kayak only at designated access points.
- All islands are closed to access.
- Pets are not permitted on the refuge.
- The Purple Trail is closed to paddlers October 1 through
March 31 each year. The closure is critical to avoid
interfering with migratory waterfowl
on the refuge.
|Important Safety Information:
- Please read important safety information and refuge rules prior to paddling the trails.
- If you are a novice paddler unfamiliar with this area, consider hiring a local guide for your
- A trail map is essential for paddling the Purple Trail. The
Blackwater Paddling Trails map can be purchased at the Blackwater NWR Visitor Center.
- During fall and winter, waterfowl hunters are active on private property near the
Green Trail. Check at the refuge Visitor Center for exact dates.
- Plan for safety. Leave your paddling route and return time with a relative or friend.
- Cell phone service is not reliable on the Blackwater Trails and should not be counted on
- In an emergency, stay with your canoe/kayak. The marsh cannot be crossed on foot.
- Check weather conditions at the refuge Visitor Center before launching your canoe/kayak.
- Strong winds can swamp or capsize your canoe/kayak. Northwest winds can make the water
shallow and the trip difficult.
- Always wear a life jacket.
- Bring a spare paddle or pole and rain gear.
- Stay in your canoe/kayak if it becomes stuck. Try shifting your weight carefully as you push
off with your paddle or pole.
- Biting insects can be numerous during the warmer months.
- There are no restroom facilities along the Purple,
Orange, and Green Trails.
- You will not encounter any venomous snakes on your paddling trip. If you see a snake near
your canoe/kayak, do not disturb it or it may become aggressive.
- Do not call or whistle to rouse birds or animals - you may disrupt important feeding or nesting
- Use binoculars for closer views.
- If birds fly away or other animals flee as your canoe/kayak approaches, move away so you don't
- Do not touch or feed birds or wild animals.
- Carry out your trash and any trash you see.
- Carry a covered container as a latrine. Empty it only at a restroom.
- Don't pick or remove any flowers or plant materials.
- Respect anglers and waterfowl hunters - pass around their lines and decoys quietly
- Keep noise to a minimum.
Thank you for helping us keep Blackwater safe for wildlife!