Four hundred years ago Englishman John Smith and a small crew of adventurers set out in an open boat to explore the Chesapeake Bay. Between 1607 and 1609 Smith mapped and documented nearly 3,000 miles of the Bay and its rivers. Along the way they visited many thriving Native American communities and gathered information about this “fruitful and delightsome land.” In December 2006 the U.S. Congress designated the routes of Smith’s explorations of the Chesapeake as a national historic trail—the first national water trail.
Smith’s map and writings influenced exploration and settlement of eastern North America for many generations, and they are a remarkable record of the native cultures and the natural environment of the 17th-century Chesapeake. The Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail lets you experience and learn about the Chesapeake Bay through the routes and places associated with Smith’s explorations.