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Top Walking & Hiking Nature Trails in Sandbridge, VA

Top Walking & Hiking Nature Trails in Sandbridge, VA

Love to hike, run, power-walk, or simply take leisurelystrolls? You'll have plenty of opportunities to stretch your legs at Sandbridge- from scenic trails and woodland walks to miles of pristine shoreline.

Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge

With over 9,250 acres, this beautiful nature preserveprovides feeding and nesting habitat for thousands of migratory birds travelingalong the Atlantic Flyway. Visit any day between dawn and dusk to hike along unspoiledcoastline, through dense coastal forest, and across freshwater marshes.

Depending on when you visit, you may spot tundra swans,Canada geese, snow geese, piping plovers, brown pelicans, bald eagles, andother colorful wildfowl... along with rare loggerhead sea turtles and yes, theoccasional snake.

All told, more than eight miles of trails crisscross the BackBay Refuge. These well-maintained trails vary in length, but most are onlymoderately strenuous.

Reese F. Lukei, Jr., Raptor Trail

Have little ones in tow? Check out the RaptorTrail, starting right behind the Visitor Center. This popular trek takes you0.4 miles (and back) along a wide gravel path amid wax myrtles, cypresses, andmarsh grasses. Watch for frogs, dragonflies, and slithery snakes. (Be sure tokeep to the path!) And, of course, be on the lookout for raptors - majestic birdsof prey such as hawks, falcons, and eagles.

Dunes and Seaside Trail

Seeking a relatively short trail ideal for kids andfamilies? Try the Dunes and Seaside Trail, a two-mile loop that winds through sanddunes and wetlands to a secluded beach (and back). Your kids will lovesearching for shells, splashing in shallow waves, and building elaboratesandcastles. You'll love the peace and serenity... and the breathtakingnatural beauty.

Beach grass and sea oats flourish along the shore. Gullsand terns wheel overhead, while pelicans and other seabirds skim the surface insearch of dinner. If you're lucky, you may spot a playful dolphin or two -perhaps even an entire pod. Be sure to have your camera handy to captureunforgettable memories.

East Dike Trail

Prefer a longer trek with spectacular views? Head to theEast Dike Trail, covering 3.3 miles in all, with wide-open paths clearly markedfor hassle-free hiking.

You'll find the trailhead at the end of the smallerparking area near the Visitor Center. Hike about a quarter mile down, then veerleft at the fork. Continue for another mile until you come to a white gate. Ifthe gate is closed, that means the rest of the trail is off limits to thepublic. If the gate is open, feel free to proceed.

(Note: The gate is closed only when wildfowl are nesting,usually during winter and early spring. It's open the rest of the year, includingthe height of visitor season.)

All along the trail, you'll notice shimmering water pools.They're part of the Refuge's impoundment system, a network of manmade pondsdesigned to provide habitat for migratory birds. Keep an eye out for egrets,herons, swans, ducks, and ospreys... along with deer, snakes, turtles, andother coastal critters.

You'll trek through grassy marshlands where cattails andrushes flourish... between white-sand dunes covered with sea oats and beachgrasses... and along upland forest dotted with live oaks and wax myrtles.

At its farthest point, the East Dike joins the West DikeTrail, which loops back to the beginning. If you're up for a 6.7-mile hike -and if West Dike is open - make the entire round trip. Otherwise, just go asfar as you like, then double back.

False Cape State Park

Ready for a walk on the wild side? Try hiking at FalseCape State Park. This virtually untouched wilderness is not even accessible bycar. To get there, you have to:

  • Hike or bike from the Back Bay Wildlife Refugevia Back Bay beach or the East or West Dike Trail
  • Travel by boat or kayak
  • Take the park's beach transport, the TerraGator ($8 per person), OR
  • Ride the Blue Goose Tram from the Back BayVisitor Center (also $8 per person)

No matter how you arrive, though, you're sure to love whatyou find. False Cape State Park covers 4,321 undeveloped acres, with nearly sixmiles of spotless beachfront extending down to the North Carolina line.

Eager for a bit of challenge? Hike the False Cape InteriorTrail (6.5 miles out and back) through gorgeous piney forest. For a shorterjaunt, try the 1.6-mile Maritime and Sundew Trail Loop or the 0.8-mile MapleLeaf Trail. All three trails are family-friendly - and dog-friendly, too, aslong as Fido stays safely leashed.

Then There's Sandbridge Beach Itself

What could be more pleasant than a stroll along the sand?Head out with the kids for a sunrise trek and a chance to spot friskingdolphins. Or take an evening ramble - just you and your honey - while thesetting sun gilds the waves and silvery surf pounds the shore. This is whatmemories are made of!

So Much More to Do

You'll never run out of fun ways to wander at Sandbridge Beach, VA. So grab your sunscreen, bottled water, and bug spray and hit the trails.