Gnarled, twisted branches tipped with small green oak leavesrise up out of the sand dune like a welcome umbrella providing a windbreak, shelter, anda welcome verdant landscapein the gray afternoon ofanother winter day.
It iswinter and fall colors still peek out here and there and there, but for the most part, False Cape State Parkboasts quite a bit ofgreen all year-around. It does snow once in a while in southern Virginia and it is a unique opportunity to take pictures of snow under a green leaf canopy.
Live oak trees keep their greenleaves even in winter
Southern live oak (Quercus Virginiana) trees are somewhat unique in the deciduous tree family. The name "Live Oak" comes from the fact that the trees don't change colorsin fall or take on a "dead appearance" like other oak trees in winter. While they do drop their leaves, it is usually in spring when new leaf growth pushes off the older leaves.
Live oaksare a hardy species surviving in hot, dry southern environments able to thrive on wind-swept beach dunes and in sandy soil due to a strong tap root and wide crown. The wood was prized during colonial times, difficult to work, but very strong. The USS Constitution was built with southern live oak wood.
When I've got the winter blues and the majority of the trees are gray,bare, sodden, and sad, I like to head out to False Cape State Park and hike under the everlasting green canopy of loblolly pines and live oak trees. I always remember the name "loblolly" because the pine cones stick up like lollipops on the branches.
A brisk winter walk on the windswept dunes will put color in your cheeks
Winter is the best time to explore False Cape State Park is no biting flies, no mosquitoes, and no gnats.
Grab your hiking or biking gear and get out into the green at Virginia Beach.
Bundle up and sign up for one of the park's winter tours by tram or Terra-gator, a dune friendly monster-truck type bus.
If hiking or biking 10-15 miles round-trip is not your forte, then go on one of the guided tours where we pick you up and drive you into the park. Click False Cape State Park.
For reservations at Virginia State Parks Customer Service Center at 1-800-933-PARK.