One of our very favorite places is First Landing State Park in Virginia Beach. The park has 2,888 acres, 20 miles of hiking trails, three separate entrances, and amazing ecological diversity! (Click on the pictures for a larger view–just be sure to click the “back” button!)
On this trip, we first went to the section off Route 60. A large campground is in this part of the park, and while we haven’t camped there yet, we love to look at the different campsites, trailers, and RVs. There’s also a clean, beautiful 1.5-mile long beach on the Chesapeake Bay!
Across the road from the beach and campground is another section of the park where the Bald Cypress Trail loops through a magical and mysterious swamp-like area. We visited this part of the park in 2014:
The third entrance to First Landing State Park is on 64th Street off of Atlantic Avenue in Virginia Beach. After passing through a small neighborhood, you quickly find yourself in a beautiful forest that opens up into marshlands. We always make sure to scan the treetops as well as the grassy marshes while driving in–this Osprey looked right at me as I was taking its picture!
At the end of 64th Street, there’s a large, open parking area on Broad Bay with docks and a boat ramp. During the summer months you can rent kayaks and jet skis from a company that sets up in the parking lot. I took these twilight pictures during a visit in December 2015:
Most of the time we park in a shady area near the end of the Cape Henry Trail along Wolfsnare Creek. We kayaked here in July 2015.
We didn’t have a lot of time to explore the park during this trip, so our main focus was the last half mile or so of the Cape Henry Trail. This popular six-mile hiking and biking trail goes through both salt marshes and wooded areas. When we visited First Landing State Park for the first time in 2013, I was so surprised to see Spanish moss hanging from the trees! There are also small, sandy beaches along the trail.
We love photographing the birds in the park, and this was the first time we’d seen a Green Heron:
Just a little further up the trail we saw a juvenile Yellow-Crowned Night Heron:
We also saw another Green Heron, Purple Martins, a couple of Great Blue Herons, and Great Egrets in the park. (We saw crabs, small fish, and small jellyfish in some of the tidal rivers bordering the trail.)
While we DO enjoy the boardwalk and all the happenings on the oceanfront at Virginia Beach–at least for a little while!–we try to visit First Landing State Park at least a couple of times a year. 🙂
On our way out of the park, we stopped at Lake Susan Constant and walked a short distance along the Cape Henry Trail there. We paused for a moment to bless, pray for, and thank the water in the Virginia Beach area….
While it’s hard to leave such a special place, our (slow) route home avoids the traffic and congestion of the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel and instead takes us across the James River on the Jamestown-Scotland Ferry. Sometimes we have to wait a while before boarding the ferry, but that gives us a few minutes to take pictures of the birds near the dock! And once the 15-20 minute trip across the water gets started, huge (seriously HUGE!) flocks of seagulls follow the ferry to grab fish that are churned up in the wake!
Interactive trip map: August 2-3, 2016:
We hope to visit again sometime in the fall or winter!