First Landing State Park's Trails
There are a total of nine trails in the park and they collectively cover more than 19 miles. A few trails are primarily shortcuts or connectors between other trails (Fox Run and Kingfisher) or offer a short diversion that helps show how past dune building influenced the local landscape (High Dune). One of the trails is a shared used bicycle/hiking trail (Cape Henry). All the other trails are only for hiking.
You can scroll down this page to learn about all the trails or click on a link from the list to jump directly to the appropriate section of the page.
The Trail Center
First Landing State Park's trail center is the the main hub for accessing the trails that run through the park (the secondary access route for the trails is the 64th street entrance to the park). This entrance is located off of Atlantic Ave and provides a way to explore the southern end of the park.
Inside the trail center there is a display area that showcases local wildlife, the park's habitats, and some of the geological and human history of the areas in and around the park. You can also obtain trail information and maps there. The trail center is open daily from 9am until 4pm, April 1-Oct. 31.
One half of the trail center building is a meeting room that can accommodate up to 45 people. For rental fees and other information about the meeting room all 757-412-2320.
You can get to the trail center by taking the south entrance off of Shore Drive, which is opposite the entrance to park's main contact station. There is a parking lot, bathroom facility, and a vending machine with drinks adjacent to the trail center.
Cape Henry Trail
This trail is the longest (6 miles) and most heavily used trail in the park. It is a wide, well-worn sand road along much of its length but there are sections that have paved blacktop and that pass across marsh boardwalks. Along the route you will pass through forests, cypress swamps, and salt marsh.
The Cape Henry trail extends from just beyond the northern border of the park and reaches to the southern the southern park entrance. There are restrooms and vending machines with drinks at the park's Trail Center (in the northern section of the park) and at the Narrows (in the southern section of the park).
It is possible to work you way to the Virginia Beach boardwalk, and its bike path, from the Cape Henry Trail. Be aware that you will have to use and cross some streets, including the busy Atlantic Ave, to travel between these two bike routes.
Bald Cypress Trail
This trail is a pleasant 1.5 mile loop through and around cypress swamps. Areas that separate the various sized low wetlands are parts of the trail that cross over forest covered dunes, making for a few slight uphill and downhill climbs. The trail has a number of boardwalks and observation platforms that carry you over and allow you to look into the swamps. The Bald Cypress Trail crosses the Cape Henry Trail, which allows you to shorten your hike by only doing one half of the loop. If you are interested in learning about the swamp, the wildlife, and basic ecology you can buy a trail guide for 50 cents from the Trail Center.
Fox Run Trail
This trail connects Long Creek Trail, Bald Cypress Trail, and the main park road. It is only a third of a mile long.
High Dune Trail
This quarter mile trail runs between the Cape Henry Trail and Bald Cypress Trail. It crosses through and over a forest covered dune ridge. During the cooler months of the year, when there are no leaves on the hardwood trees, you are able to gain some nice views of the surrounding lower lying swamp lands. During the summer the short but steep climb to the dune crest is good exercise but offers a more restricted view.
This trail connects Cape Henry and Long Creek Trails along a 0.6 mile route. The forest it crosses through is slightly removed from the surrounding swamp habitats along most of the way because the trail follows a slightly elevated section of parkland.
Long Creek Trail
The trail roughly parallels the Cape Henry Trail but offers a much different hiking experience. Long Creek Trail follows along the edge of the bay and salt marsh lands for over half its 5 mile length. It also passes near While Hill Lake, offering lovely views of the lake and the open wetlands that surround it. Just south of its northern junction with Long Creek Trail, there is a salt marsh boardwalk and a viewing platform. This trail is one of the best bird watching trails in the park, especially along its southern half.
This trail travels through low elevation bottom lands and is a pleasant 3 mile loop. It tends to offer a bit more solitude than many of the other northern trails.
As a reasonably long loop trail that is not far from the trail center and parking area, it is an enticing jogging trail and does see a fair bit of use by joggers.
The trail is a side route off of the southern portion of Long Creek Trail. A portion of the trail runs along the tidal beach of Broad Bay and is flooded during high tide. You can start on this trail (1.2 miles) shortly after entering Long Creek Trail from 64th street, follow it to its end, and come back along a ~ 1.5 mile section of Long Creek Trail to hike a nice loop through a few different habitats that are found in the southern section of First Landing State Park.
White Hill Lake Trail
A 1.4 mile section of trail that connects Cape Henry and Long Creek Trails. It is a wide track trail that is an easy walking path. It passes along the edge of cypress swamp ponds and through forested areas. Despite it relatively short length, accessing this trail must include using sections of other trails, which makes any hike along the White Hill Lake Trail a much longer trek.