30 Oct 2023
When you think of Virginia Beach, as the name implies, the first images that probably come to mind are sun-soaked shores and the bustling boardwalk. But what if you're craving a bit more adventure or a chance to explore the natural beauty that extends beyond the shoreline? Whether you're a casual stroller or a seasoned trailblazer, Virginia Beach has a variety of hiking trails that cater to all levels of experience. From easy, family-friendly walks to moderate hikes and challenging treks, there's something for everyone. So, lace up those hiking boots, and let’s explore the best Virginia Beach hikes for all experience levels.
Family-Friendly Virginia Beach Hikes
If you're looking for a leisurely hike that's perfect for the whole family, the Bald Cypress Trail is a great starting point. This 1.6-mile loop trail takes you through a lush forest of cypress trees, offering a serene escape from the busy beach. The trail is well-marked and relatively flat, making it ideal for beginners or those hiking with young children. With boardwalks and observation platforms extending over the wetlands, you’ll be able to snap excellent pictures of the scenery and wildlife. You can even bring fido on this trail so the whole family can spend the day exploring.
Another excellent option for families or those new to hiking is the Lake Lawson/Lake Smith Natural Area. This scenic 42-acre natural preserve offers 1.5 miles of paths that wind around the lakes, providing beautiful water views and opportunities for leaf peeping in the fall. The trails are well-maintained and have benches along the way, making it a relaxing outing for all ages. The paths are great for biking, too, if you’d rather ride than walk.
The Osmanthus Trail is a hidden gem that offers a quick yet rewarding hike. This 3.2-mile loop winds through a freshwater maritime forest, offering glimpses of local flora and fauna. Though the crashing waves and sand are just across Shore Drive, you’ll feel miles away from the beach as you wander this well-maintained path. This short and easy adventure is perfect for those looking to get a taste of nature without committing to a long hike.
When you're ready to step up your hiking game, the Cape Henry Trail is a fantastic option. As the longest trail in First Landing State Park, this 6.1-mile stretch offers a bit of everything—sand dunes, maritime forests, and even a stretch along the beach as the trail connects to the northern tip of the boardwalk. The trail is clearly marked and connects to longer systems, making it a moderate hike that's both challenging and rewarding. As you traverse, keep your eyes peeled for osprey, egrets, and even the occasional eagle.
The White Hill Lake Trail is another moderate option that offers a bit more solitude. This 7.9-mile out-and-back trail takes an average of just over two hours to complete. It's a peaceful hike that allows you to immerse yourself in nature, far removed from the tourist crowds. There is a slight elevation change, adding to the challenge, but the beautiful views of the surrounding waters make it worth it.
For a moderately challenging hike, the Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge’s West Dike, Barbour Hill, Sand Ridge Beach Loop is a must-try. At 8.9 miles, the trail offers a variety of terrains, including beach, forest, and wetlands. With a slight elevation change of 45 feet and an average completion time of around two and a half hours, it’s a rewarding hike that’s good for backpacking, birding, and camping and is best visited from April through November. As part of the wildlife refuge, the area is subject to closure to protect habitats, so be sure to check the status before you go. You’ll also need to leave the pups at home for this one.
Whether you want to hike, bike, or run, the False Cape Interior Trail has you covered. At 6.5 miles out and back, this moderately challenging route provides 2 hours of serene surroundings as you amble along sandy paths, past crashing waves, and through towering forests. If you’re lucky, you can experience everything from area wildlife to stunning sunsets while you adventure through the trail. Be sure to bring a bathing suit or wear something you won’t mind getting wet if you're hiking this trail in the warmer months. The secluded stretches make for an almost private beach feeling you won’t find anywhere else. You may find yourself spending hours soaking in the solitude of the crashing waves and salt air.
Book Your Adventure Today!
Virginia Beach is more than just a beach destination; it's an outdoor adventurer's paradise. Whether you're looking to take a leisurely family walk or challenge yourself with a strenuous hike, there's a trail that's perfect for you. Don't miss out on the chance to explore the natural beauty Virginia Beach has to offer. Browse our vacation rentals and book your outdoor adventure vacation directly with Atkinson Realty Vacations today.