Virginia Beach, VA: First Landing State Park
Brimming with beach and bay views, this Virginia Beach 9.9-miler tours cypress swamps, coastal forest (shrouded in Spanish moss), and idyllic marshlands.
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Touring five of the nine trails in First Landing State Park, this 10-mile loop also hits a wide variety of coastal ecosystems making for a fantastic four-season dayhike. Pick up the Cape Henry Trail, heading east through a flat coastal forest. The hike treks in and out of stretches like this one, and is often shrouded in heavy tunnels of Spanish moss (just try and take a bad photo of this stuff). After 3.5 miles, the trail hits the shore and runs briefly along the boardwalk while passing First Landing State Park Pond and intermittent sandy beaches (all of which afford stunning views of Broad Bay). At the end of Cape Henry, the hike turns onto First Landing (after jogging 0.9-mile east on the road), and continues back into the moss-covered forest as it treks west past a series of trailside beaches, wetland clearings, and marsh lakes en route to the trailhead. -Mapped by Ivan Levin
- Distance: 15.9
Location: 36.9158554, -76.041008
At the First Landing State Park Trail Center parking lot, start hiking north on the side trail on the left side of the road.
Location: 36.9155731, -76.0418549
Turn left @ T-junction onto the Cape Henry Trail, a multi-use trail used by hikers, runners, and cyclists.
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To the left, a small spur trail heads up a hill to a wildlife overlook.
Location: 36.9085159, -76.021492
Continue straight @ 3-way junction on the Cape Henry Trail. Here, the King Fisher Trail shoots off to the right, offering an opportunity to shorten this loop.
Location: 36.9009666, -76.0064087
Continue straight on the Cape Henry Trail. Here, the White Hill Trail shoots off to the right, offering another opportunity to shorten the loop.
Location: 36.8899269, -75.9921188
Cross 64th Street, passing the park contact station (phone booth styled ranger station). Continue along the wooden boardwalk as the trail traverses several sandy stretches.
Location: 36.8868942, -76.0000229
The trail passes a scenic viewpoint with a bench right by the pond: this is a great spot for birdwatching.
Location: 36.8878555, -76.0051727
Enter a clearing, continuing straight on the boardwalk. This is a great spot to soak in views of the wildlife and the watershed. As you continue to hike, take note of the tide change at spots like this.
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Continue on trail, crossing over a small stream on a bridge. Just ahead, the trail passes a small beach on the right through a Spanish moss-covered forest.
Location: 36.8908234, -76.0176773
The end of the Cape Henry Trail is marked by a parking lot, boat ramp, and amazing views of Broad Bay. Head southeast out of the park, walking along 64th Street for 0.9 mile to the Long Creek Trail junction (on the left).
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Turn left off of 64th Street onto the orange-blazed Long Creek Trail.
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Turn left @ Y-junction onto the green-blazed Osprey Trail.
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The trail crosses a series of wooden bridges and passes idyllic beaches and superb views of Broad Bay.
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Climb a series of large steps through a Spanish moss forest. Ahead, the trail steepens as it climbs uphill and then descends back down.
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Go right @ Y- junction onto the Long Creek Trail. There is a wildlife viewing station here. Continue on the Long Creek Trail.
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Bear right @ Y-junction onto the yellow-blazed Fox Run Trail.
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Turn right and head down the stairs, then make an immediate left @ T-junction onto the red-blazed Bald Cypress Trail.
Location: 36.9153137, -76.0414124
Turn left onto the Cape Henry Trail, and then make a quick right to head back towards the Trail Center parking lot.
Location: 36.9167404, -76.0412521
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Cape Henry Trail
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Broad Bay View
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Long Creek Trail
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Spanish Moss Tunnel
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White Hill Lake
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