Virginia Beach is one lucky city; it holds not one but two state parks within its boundaries. However even though the two parks are in the same city if you visit First Landing State Park and False Cape State Park you will quickly find they are two very different parks.
The City Slickers Escape – First Landing State Park
Virginia’s most visited state park is located just minutes from the resort area of Virginia Beach. The park’s neighbors are Fort Story Army Base and residential areas. The mile and a half of beach along the Chesapeake Bay is a major draw of visitors in the summer, but so is the easy hiking trail through the Bald Cypress Swamps.
A natural oasis in amongst urbanization, First Landing is an escape from the busy world for many local citizens. They come to run the Cape Henry Trail, or put in their boat at the 64th St. boat ramp, or picnic on a nice sunny day. First Landing is close and convenient, with many smooth well used trails and parking right next to the beach access.
The park is a great one for people who are just starting to explore the outdoors (both young and old alike) or who are not really into a rugged wilderness excursion. A visitor can park in the Trail Center Parking Lot access the Bald Cypress Trail right from the edge of the lot and take a mile long stroll over bridges crossing the swamps and wide pine straw covered trail, it’s an easy walk that loops back to the parking lot. The Bald Cypress is a great trail for those looking to just get some fresh air during a lunch break or for parents to take little ones on their first hike.
Camping at First Landing is also perfect for anyone who isn’t interested in backpacking into the National Forest. First Landing has over 200 campsites, all within walking distance to the beach. The campground can accommodate up to 50 ft RVs with water and electric available at more than half the sites. Many local parents use First Landing’s campground for their children’s’ first camping experience. They utilize the park for its location, close to home! So in case the trip becomes too much for little Johnny or Susie to handle they can easily pick up and drive just down the road to return home.
First Landing has much to offer for the city slicker and non city slicker alike, approximately 20 miles of trails, over 200 campsites, 20 cabins, 1.5 mi of beach, interpretive programs, and so much more! Visitors can see the Chesapeake Bay, Bald Cypress swamps, maritime forest, marshes, lakes and creeks all within the 2,888 acres of the park. During the summer one can often see skinks, turtles, frogs, snakes, song birds, woodland birds, shore birds, wading birds, foxes, raccoons, squirrels, blue crabs, ghost crabs, and even dolphins!
Located on the southern-eastern tip of Virginia, on what’s called a barrier spit you will find False Cape one of Virginia’s most unique state parks. False Cape can be found tucked between Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge & North Carolina. Encompassing 4,321 acres, False Cape remains a relatively undisturbed coastal environment. With public vehicle access prohibited one must either access the park by hiking, bicycling, or boating. This access can be very tricky at times due to the many management practices that Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge conducts. Always check on current rules & regulations when visiting.
A True Wilderness Excursion – False Cape State Park
Can you image what False Cape looks like? It hasn’t changed much. From rolling tides and waves to isolated sandy beaches, maritime forests and wetlands. Nature lovers of all walks would enjoy a day or two exploring the many habitats that make up False Cape. So come and explore the 16 miles of trails, 12 primitive campsites, 6 mi of beach, or join park staff for guided interpretive or nature based programs!
Depending on the season, visitors can experience the many species of migratory birds, turtles, snakes, bobcats, foxes, white-tail deer, feral pigs and variety of other native wildlife. Due to limited development False Cape host several different habitats. Within these habitats you will find an abundant amount of flora & fauna.
False Cape is also rich with history, ranging from early mariners, shipwrecks, life-saving stations, gunning clubs to much more. The area was named for its resemblance to Cape Henry when seen from the ocean. This false impression lured ships and boats looking for the real Cape Henry (about 20 miles/30 km) to the north at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay into the treacherous shallow waters, where they often ran aground.
When visiting False Cape one must be prepared. When hiking or bicycling into the park, remember you must travel through tram or Terra Gator.
Learn more about False Cape State Park, First Landing State Park, and other Virginia State Parks by visiting our website.