Virginia Beach is a popular coastal town getaway for people looking to breathe in the salty ocean air and take in some beautiful views. While there are plenty of spots for eating delicious seafood and relaxing on the beach, you may want to get out and explore the outdoors. Luckily, several excellent hiking trail options are available in and around the area.
Virginia Beach is home to the First Landing State Park, which hosts several great hiking trail options for outdoor enthusiasts. The nearby Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge also offers a diverse system of trails for locals and tourists alike to traverse. You’re likely to see a variety of wildlife on your hike.
Due to the proximity to the water, you’ll want to call ahead before heading out to any of these trails. Heavy rainfall and coastal flooding can cause pathways to close down throughout the year on short notice.
1. Osmanthus Trail
The best time to check out this popular hiking trail is from March through November. It’s located in First Landing State Park, which charges a daily fee for visitors. Expect to pay $7 on a weekday and $10 on the weekend. You can also purchase an annual pass if you’re a local.
What this trail lacks in elevation, it’s sure to make up for in beautiful scenic views. The trail is flat and relatively easy, making it an excellent option for families with young kids who want to join in on the adventure.
There are also benches along the trail, allowing hikers to take frequent breaks if needed. This trail is solely dedicated to hikers, so there are no bicyclists whizzing past you on your trek.
The pathway is kept well-maintained and even includes a boarded walkway. During the summertime, there can be an influx of mosquitos, so bug spray is highly recommended.
Distance: 3.1 Miles
Total Elevation Gain: 16 Feet
2. Cape Henry Trail
Cape Henry is an out-and-back trail that includes a variety of different terrains to keep the hike interesting. You’ll come across pavement, boardwalk, sand, and dirt. It should be noted that after heavy rainfall, the dirt can turn into mud and may make the hike a bit more difficult.
You’ll enjoy scenic beach views and also the swamp and marsh ecosystems, which include a variety of bird species and other wildlife such as frogs, crabs, and snakes.
Hikers will want to tread carefully and keep their eyes peeled if they’re trying to spot the creatures that call this trail home. There is a side trail for hikers if they want to avoid the bicyclists that often ride along this multi-use trail.
T&T Tip: This path has been known to flood after rainfall, so check for any weather-related updates before making the trip to avoid any disappointment.
Distance: 10.1 Miles
Total Elevation Gain: 82 Feet
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3. Pleasure House Point Loop
When attempting this hike, it’s best to wear shoes that can get wet. The trail is primarily sandy, but there can be areas that require a water crossing, especially if you’re trekking at high tide.
If you want to avoid underwater portions of the trail, it’s best to base your trip around low tide. Halfway through this trail, there is a secluded beach area where hikers can swim and enjoy a picnic on the sand.
The trail connects to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation Center, which is worth checking out if you have the time in your schedule.
If you’re an avid bird hobbyist, this trail is a great place to spot the many species that call Virginia Beach home. Bring your binoculars and meander slowly, listening carefully for any chirping. Even if you’re not into birding, this trail has a great deal of scenery to take in, and you won’t get bored due to the diversity of your surroundings.
Distance: 2.3 Miles
Total Elevation Gain: 6 Feet
4. Virginia Beach Trail
As far as trails in Virginia Beach go, this is easily the most accessible one for those in wheelchairs or those bringing strollers along. The entirety of the trail is paved, and there are railings along the sides. The path is around 8 feet wide, giving everyone plenty of space to maneuver.
There are both benches and picnic tables along the route, so visitors can take a break and hang out while enjoying the ocean view. Even better, there is a separate parallel path for bicyclists. You won’t have to worry about dodging anyone on two wheels.
Parking can be limited at times, especially during peak tourist season. If you want to ensure you find a spot, get there earlier in the morning and grab free parking from 6-10 AM. After your 5-mile hike, you can grab some caffeine at a local coffee shop along the route before heading back home.
Distance: 5.5 Miles
Total Elevation Gain: 36 Feet
5. Bald Cypress Trail
Bald Cypress is another popular trial within First Landing State Park. The employees do a great job of keeping the trail maintained and clearly marked. This particular path is wooded and offers plenty of tree cover and shade for those sunny days.
Like most Virginia Beach trails, there is very little elevation. Your quads won’t be burning by the end of this quick hike. According to one review, if you go in mid-October, you may see some woodpeckers.
If you have children who are just learning how to read a trail and follow a designated path, this is a great option for them. There are several overlooks along the route, which helps keep everyone motivated to continue trekking forward for the next great view.
When you arrive at the park, a healthy coating of bug spray is recommended. The wooded area can get a bit buggy, and you don’t want a perfect hike ruined by numerous mosquito bites.
Distance: 1.6 Miles
Total Elevation Gain: 19 Feet
6. False Cape Interior Trail
This out-and-back trail is located in False Cape State Park. Before heading out to the park, it’s best to check their website or call ahead, as the trails are subject to immediate closure to protect habitats. Dogs aren’t allowed, even if they’re kept on a leash.
The trail is mainly sand, so it’s not a great option for those relying on mobility devices. After a significant amount of rain, some segments of the trail have the potential to become flooded and impassable.
There is a small $5 fee for entering the park, but this fee is waived during the winter months (November-March). You can get a sense of remoteness when hiking the trails in this state park, and you may not see anyone else there during the off-season. If you’re looking to get in touch with nature, this is a solid option.
Distance: 6.5 Miles
Total Elevation Gain: 98 Feet
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7. Dunes and Seaside Trail
Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge is home to a couple of popular hikes, including the Dunes and Seaside Trail. If you can plan accordingly, it’s best to visit between April and November for the best experience. There are no dogs allowed for the pet owners looking to visit the park for a hike.
There is a fee collected per vehicle when entering the park. If you’re on foot, the fee is on a per-person basis. If you’re an owner of an America the Beautiful pass, that’s also accepted at the refuge.
Hikers will appreciate the well-maintained trails and the visible signage that keeps them from veering off of the correct path. For those eager to spot wildlife, you’re likely to see many living creatures in the marshland area as well as stunning views of the expansive bay that truly make this hike one to remember.
Distance: 2.0 Miles
Total Elevation Gain: 26 Feet
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8. Lake Lawson Loop Trail
This loop trail is located in the Lake Smith Natural Area, where birding and fishing opportunities abound. Dogs are more than welcome to come and explore with their owners but need to be kept on their leash for everyone’s safety.
The trail is partially paved and is very family-friendly for those with little ones. The park provides a quick escape from the hustle and bustle of city life and can provide an opportunity to get out and explore nature for an hour or two.
Hikers are welcome to pack a picnic lunch and enjoy their meal with a stunning view of the lake. If hiking with a dog or a small child, be on the lookout for poison ivy along the side of the path. There are also sections where tree roots are sticking up, so be careful to avoid tripping over them.
Distance: 1.6 Miles
Total Elevation Gain: 16 Feet
9. White Hill Lake Trail
This out-and-back trail is in the First Landing State Park, which is a popular option for hiking among Virginia Beach residents and those visiting from out of town.
Due to the length of this trail, it’s best to set aside 2-3 hours to complete it. It’s recommended that hikers pack plenty of water and maybe a snack or two.
You’ll find varied terrain along the nearly 8-mile trail, including wooded segments and beautiful views of the water. The path suits many ability levels, but it may prove to be too long for younger children.
If there has been recent coastal flooding, some sections of the path may be muddy. Proper hiking shoes or boots are a great way to combat slipping through the slick mud. Expect to pay an entrance fee of $5-$10, depending on the time of year.
Distance: 7.9 Miles
Total Elevation Gain: 85 Feet
10. Stumpy Lake Loop
As you may have guessed from the aptly named trail, hikers can expect many sections of roots that make the pathway “stumpy” and somewhat tricky to traverse.
These obstacles lead to an interesting hike, and proper hiking shoes are recommended to keep your footing steady. If you have older people or young children in your party, this may not be the best route choice due to the difficult terrain.
There are many opportunities to spot wildlife, especially birds. Multiple reviews mentioned insects, so bug spray is a must for this hike. Dog owners can bring their furry friends along but must keep them leashed for the entire duration of the hike.
Distance: 1.5 Miles
Total Elevation Gain: 3 Feet
11. Lake Trashmore Loop Trail
Despite its name, you won’t have to worry about finding heaps of trash along this trail. The name originates from the fact that this park used to be a landfill before it was renovated into a community-oriented trail around the lake.
Public bathrooms and a water refill station are available, as well as free parking and no entrance fees. While there isn’t much shade to be had, a wide-brimmed hat can solve that issue on hot summer days.
There are several stations to work out if you find that you have excess energy by the end of your hike. Geese roam the park at will, so keep an eye out as they can become somewhat aggressive if they feel threatened.
Dogs are welcome on the Lake Trashmore Loop Trail as long as they are on a leash.
Distance: 1.9 Miles
Total Elevation Gain: 13 Feet
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12. First Landing Loop Trail
Along this trail, hikers will find a variety of ecosystems and several different types of terrain to keep things interesting. If you’re looking to avoid any crowds, start early, and you’ll have the trail to yourself. There are several side trails that end up at a dead-end, so keep your eyes on the map.
If 8+ miles isn’t enough for you, there are intersection trails throughout the park that you can tack on to add mileage. High tide can flood sections of the trail, but they’re easily crossed with waterproof hiking boots.
First Landing State Park has a campground where you can stay if you want to hike several trails over the weekend.
Distance: 8.4 Miles
Total Elevation Gain: 131 Feet