Explore Coastal Virginia: A Guide to Hiking in Virginia Beach
Hiking is an excellent form of exercise, offering numerous physical and mental health benefits.
Additionally, the beach is excellent for relaxing and recharging.
With both benefits in mind, hiking at the beach can be a serene and rejuvenating experience.
Virginia Beach in coastal Virginia is a hidden gem for hikers.
Sitting between the Atlantic Ocean and the Chesapeake Bay, this coastal city offers hiking trails that showcase the area's natural beauty.
From woodland paths to sandy dunes and wetlands, hikers can explore diverse ecosystems while hiking in Virginia Beach.
Additionally, the hiking trails in Virginia Beach are easy hikes that accommodate everyone from beginner to experienced.
This article will overview hiking in Virginia Beach and describe some of the most popular hiking trails there.
Why hike in Virginia Beach?
Hiking in Virginia Beach offers an unparalleled opportunity to explore the natural beauty of coastal Virginia.
With the variety of trails for hikers of all levels, diverse wildlife, and historical significance, this section will examine why you should plan a hiking trip to Virginia Beach.
The natural beauty of the area
One of the primary reasons to go hiking in Virginia Beach is the breathtaking natural beauty of the Virginia Tidewater region.
From the dunes to the lush woodlands and wetlands, the Virginia Beach area offers a stunning variety of landscapes to explore.
Some trails wind through swampy forests, while others take hikers closer to the dunes and pristine waters.
The diversity in scenery is one of the best reasons to hike Virginia Beach.
Accommodating to all skill levels
Another reason to consider hiking in Virginia Beach is the range of trails available to any hiking skill level, no matter how inexperienced you might be.
Several trails in and around Virginia Beach are at most 3 miles in length, so you can enjoy a nice morning hike and relax at the beach by the afternoon.
Most hiking trails in Virginia Beach are rated for beginners, with none rated above an intermediate hiking level.
That said, hiking in Virginia Beach is an enjoyable experience for the whole family.
Some hikes in Virginia Beach are paved, so feel free to take the kids and the stroller.
Unique flora and fauna of the area
Virginia Beach is home to a wide variety of flora and fauna you might not find outside of a beachy terrain and climate.
The wetlands in Virginia Beach are incredibly unique, with their vast expanses of salt marshes and tidal creeks.
These areas provide critical habitats for bird species, including herons, egrets, and osprey.
You might even glimpse a dolphin playing in the waves off the coast.
With opportunities for diverse wildlife sightings, hiking in Virginia Beach is a nature lover’s dream.
Finally, many of the hiking trails in Virginia Beach are full of rich history.
For example, First Landing State Park in Virginia Beach is named for the spot where the first English settlers landed in Virginia in 1607.
First Landing State Park also has 20 miles of hiking trails and views of the Chesapeake Bay. If you're looking for a unique camping experience, check out their yurt rentals.
By hiking in Virginia Beach, you can learn more about the area’s fascinating past while enjoying the natural beauty of the present.
Top hiking trails in Virginia Beach
Now that we’ve discussed why hiking in Virginia Beach is such a unique experience, we will look at some of the most popular hiking trails in the area.
Each of these hiking trails offers a unique perspective on the natural beauty of coastal Virginia and its rich history and culture.
First Landing State Park
Though I’ve already mentioned this park, it’s worth going into a little more detail surrounding the unique hiking experiences First Landing State Park has to offer.
The park boasts 20 miles of hiking trails that wind through forests, salt marshes, and sandy beaches.
The park is so named because this is the first spot the English colonists first landed in Virginia in 1607. Several historical landmarks provide insight into the area’s rich history.
The Cape Henry Trail is one of the most popular trails in the park, offering a semi-paved trail with a mix of dirt stretches.
The trail also offers some beach views and scenic walks through dense forests.
The Cape Henry Trail is over 6 miles from end to end, so you’ll want to plan several hours for this hike.
False Cape State Park
This Virginia Beach state park offers untouched beaches, wooded marshlands, primitive camping, and 9 miles of hiking and cycling trails.
One of the most favored hiking trails in the park is the Barbour Hill Trail. This gravel trail transitions to sand overlooking the ocean.
False Cape State Park is a secluded and undeveloped natural area located at the southern end of Virginia Beach, close to the North Carolina border.
Other than the Barbour Hill Trail, miles of other trails wind through pristine forests, dunes, and marshes, providing visitors with a truly immersive outdoor experience.
Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge
The Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge near Virginia Beach is a unique ecosystem that includes dunes, salt marshes, and woodlands.
The refuge is home to 300 species of birds, with bird watching being a popular activity.
There is also a variety of other mammal wildlife, such as otters, deer, and bobcats.
Check out the Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge Bay Trail for a really short and easy hike. This trail is less than a mile long and excellent for birding and wildlife viewing.
Consider the Dunes and Seaside Trail for a hike that is a bit longer but still an accessible route. This trail is 2 miles and is another great trail for wildlife spotting.
Mount Trashmore Park
Suppose you're looking for a more urban and certainly unique hiking experience. In that case, Mount Trashmore Park is a fantastic option for hiking in Virginia Beach.
This park is built atop an old landfill. It features two artificial mountains made out of solid waste and compacted soil.
The largest of the two artificial mountains stands at 60 feet.
The Lake Trashmore Loop Trail is a Virginia Beach hiking trail that loops around Mount Trashmore Park.
It is a nearly two miles long loop and considered an easy hike.
Tips for hiking in Virginia Beach
Before you set out on your hiking adventure in Virginia Beach, here are a few tips to help make your trip safe and enjoyable.
Wear appropriate footwear
Many of the hiking trails in Virginia Beach feature rocky or sandy terrain, so it is important to wear sturdy hiking boots or shoes with good traction.
Virginia Beach can get hot and humid, especially in the summer, so pack plenty of water and drink it frequently to stay hydrated.
One quart of water per hour of activity per person is recommended, so keep this in mind when packing your provisions.
Check the weather
Virginia Beach, like many other beaches, can experience unpredictable weather, such as sudden storms or high winds. Always check the weather forecast before setting out on a hike in Virginia Beach.
Virginia Beach is home to various wildlife, including snakes and spiders. Be aware of your surroundings and give all animals plenty of space.
Leave no trace
When hiking in Virginia Beach, be sure to pack out all your trash and respect the area's natural beauty.
Practicing good hiking etiquette means leaving natural areas as if we were never there.
For more on the “leave no trace” concept and general hiking etiquette, check out my article Hiking for Beginners: A Guide for New Hikers.
Hiking in Virginia Beach is a unique and rewarding experience that offers immersion into the natural beauty and rich history of coastal Virginia.
I personally haven’t found many experiences more unique than hiking at the beach.
With an abundance of trails to choose from, with most being easy for beginners, there is a trail for any hiker in Virginia Beach.
Whether a local or a visitor, take some time to explore the stunning landscapes and hidden gems of Virginia Beach on foot.