What is a National Water Trail?

Learn more about National Water Trails

What is required to become a National Water Trail? 

Water Trail Planning 101

National Water Trail Criteria and Ranking


The Shiawassee River Water Trail Plan was drafted in 2017 and submitted to the National Park Service as a part of our application for National Water Trail Designation on May 1, 2017.

The plan serves as a development and management guide for the Shiawassee Water Trail. The Goals of the Plan are as follows:

  • assemble information about trail organization and operation
  • detail signing/branding for directions, safety, and interpretation
  • engage the public in a wide array of contact media and assemblies
  • market the trail for tourism and close-to-home affordable recreation
  • provide for an expected and reliable level of maintenance, and
  • lay out operations, implementation planning and funding.

Download the Shiawassee River Water Trail Plan here.

The Coalition reviews the plan annually for updates. Please submit corrections and additions to Sara McDonnell at [email protected].

Is the Plan missing anything?

Send completed inventory forms and other comments to [email protected]; Here are forms to get you started: Asset Inventory 1  |  Asset Inventory 2  |  Asset Inventory 3  |  Asset Inventory 4



The Michigan Water Trails Manual was created in 2017 as a blueprint for world-class water trails. The tool provides step-by-step instructions for communities to establish water trails.

Download the Michigan Water Trails Manual


Local governments interested in incorporating language to support the Shiawassee River water trail into their master plan, or capital improvement plan are encouraged to amend the boilerplate language provided below.

DRAFT LANGUAGE for your 5-Year Parks and Rec Master Plan


 Launch Site Assessment 

  • Water Trail Site Improvement Form to help committee members think about improvements and/or enhancements to existing and planned launch sites that are on the inventory