The Great Loop – The Continuous Waterway That Circles The Eastern U.S

The Great Loop is a continuous waterway that recreational mariners can travel that includes part of the Atlantic, Gulf Intracoastal Waterways, the Great Lakes, Canadian Heritage Canals, and the inland rivers of America’s heartland. Anyone who completes the journey is then named an official ‘Looper’. – National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration


Looper1The primary waterways on the basic route include:

The Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway
The Chesapeake Bay
The C&D Canal
The Atlantic Ocean from Cape May to New York Harbor (or sometimes inland waterways through New Jersey)
The Hudson River
The Erie Canal (or a popular route option on the “Triangle Loop”)
The Oswego Canal (or continue on the Erie Canal to Lake Erie)
Lake Ontario
The Trent-Severn Canal
Georgian Bay
Lake Michigan
The Illinois River
The Mississippi River
The Ohio River
The Tennessee River
The Tenn-Tom Waterway
Mobile Bay
The Gulf Intracoastal Waterway
The Okeechobee Waterway (or continue on the Gulf Intracoastal to the Keys).

The Great Loop is a minimum of 5,250, but depending on which route choice and which side trips you do, it can be extended to include thousands of more miles.  Most Loopers report their Great Loop trip to be in the 6,000-mile range.

The Great Loop has been done in as little as two months and in as much as 12 years.  Traditionally, Loopers have spent about a year on the route.  After all, it is a seasonal trip.  You’ll want to be on the northern part of the Loop during the warm summer months, the inland rivers in the fall, spend the winter in Florida, and the spring following the warm weather up the eastern portion of the route.

Although the Great Loop has been done in both directions, it’s usually done counter-clockwise so that you are going with the current, not against it, on the inland rivers.

Go to for all thing Great Loop including a forum and lots more information on the route.

Introduction to the Great Loop

Including stats about the route, the waterways included, and lots of photos of what you’ll see and do along the way.

Webinar: Cruising America’s Great Loop

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