© Chesapeake Bay Program (Chesapeake)

Chesapeake Bay - Current and Potential Public Access Sites


This layer depicts locations that provide, or have the potential to provide, public water access opportunities along the tidal shoreline of the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries and along non-tidal waterways of stream order 5 or greater. These are locations outlined in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Public Access Plan.

Data Layer Description


National Park Service, Chesapeake Bay Office


Pennsylvania, New York, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia.


This data represents the best available public access information on public access to the water as developed for the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Public Access Plan. This plan documents 1,150 existing public access sites in the Chesapeake watershed as of September 2011, making it the most extensive inventory to date of current public access sites in the region. The plan also identifies 320 potential locations for developing new public access in the watershed; the list will be regularly updated with new suggestions. Only sites on fifth order streams or higher are included in the plan and in this data.

Developing the new baseline of existing access sites involved two steps: analysis by state and federal agencies and public additions through workshops and an online tool to review existing sites. There are four categories of public access: boating access, swimming (beach) access, fishing access, and natural area or trail access.

Identification of the potential public access sites occurred through three major steps: assessment of state plans, public identification of desired access through public outreach and an online tool, and action team review. The full process resulted in a final list of 320 potential access opportunities

in the watershed, of which 38 percent were identified from prior local, state, and federal agency planning processes and the remaining 62 percent were suggested by the public.

How to get the data layer

Contact Andy Fitch at the NPS Chesapeake Bay Office.

How you might make use of this data layer

This dataset shares where there are already opportunities for the public to access the Bay and its rivers, as well as shares where future public access sites may be designed. This information may be useful in planning future access development and associated land protection.

How to get more information

Learn more about the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Public Access Plan. Contact Andy Fitch at the NPS Chesapeake Bay Office.

Access and use constraints

Attribution No Derivatives (BY-ND)


Chesapeake Bay Office, National Park Service, 2012

Sample Map

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