Making the Trail Visible and Visitor Ready: A Plan for the James River Segment

The Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail joined the National Trails System following designation by Congress in 2006. The trail helps visitors experience, envision, understand, and protect what the explorers and inhabitants of the region encountered 400 years ago.

by National Park Service


James Concept Plan Final 12 01 11


Given the 3,000 mile scope and diverse resources, the trail is being developed and managed in segments. Managed by the National Park Service in collaboration with many partners, this 3000 mile water trail follows the routes of Captain John Smith’s exploration of the Chesapeake in 1607‐ 1609.

The tidal James River is the first stretch of the trail for which a segment plan is being developed. This plan outlines how the trail could be enhanced along the James – from Richmond to the route 17 bridge near Newport News – over the next few years.

This plan describes a core approach in some depth. The approach, and a draft of the plan, were also discussed in depth at a stakeholder workshop held in July 2011. The pages that follow provide:

• An introduction to the trail’s foundation – its significance, resources and themes (Section 1);

• A description of the five initial focus areas and the concepts for enhancing them (Section 2);

• A discussion of overarching strategies for supporting and linking the trail (Section 3); and

• An outline of potential trail partnerships and actions for implementation (Section 4).

Published December 01, 2011

About the Author


The National Park Service (NPS) was created in 1916 and today manages over 390 units found in all 50 states and some of the U.S. territories. NPS supports and operates trails in three interlocking arenas: trails in parks, technical assistance to States and communities, and administration of much of the National Trails System.

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