Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail is a series of water routes in the United States extending approximately 3,000 miles (4,800 km) along the Chesapeake Bay, the nation's largest estuary, and its tributaries in Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, and in the District of Columbia. The historic routes trace the 1607–1609 voyages of Captain John Smith to chart the land and waterways of the Chesapeake.
The John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail was established on December 19
, by Public Law No. 109-418 after a year of feasibility studies undertaken by the National Park Service
and authorized by the US Congress
. Pressure to create the trail came from bipartisan legislation initially introduced in the Senate in August 2005. This suggestion rapidly gained support and was approved by the Subcommittee on National Parks in May 2006. The Senate Subcommittee's approval provoked a House companion bill, sponsored by Representative Jo Anne Davis and co-sponsored by 27 representatives, which was finally passed by the House on December 6 2006
and by the Senate two days later. The President signed the bill into law on December 19 2006
The bay-area water trail is part of the National Trails System and is administered by the National Park Service, in coordination with the Chesapeake Bay Gateways and Watertrails Network and the federal-state Chesapeake Bay Program.