Posts Tagged ‘False Cape State Park’


Fall Euphoria

Sunday, November 23rd, 2014 by Katherine Jackson
First Landing courtesy of Katherine Jackson

First Landing courtesy of Katherine Jackson

I’ve always enjoyed walking in the woods in any season, but I especially take pleasure in the fall when the sun electrifies the yellow and red and orange leaves. I always assumed the satisfaction that resulted from ambling in the forest was due to the natural beauty, the fresh air, and the musty-dusty smell of pine straw and crushed leaves. I was surprised to read an essay the other day that credited the euphoria I feel among the trees to the blanket of decaying leaves. According to Liza Field, a teacher and writer whose essay appeared in the Virginian-Pilot, “compost-dwelling bacteria…are one big reason that hours spent in a woodland or compost-rich garden profoundly elevates human mood.” She says that studies have linked the humus created by decaying leaves with elevated levels of serotonin, which is associated with emotional states, and “decreased depression, blood pressure, anxiety and stress hormones.” No wonder a few miles of hiking is so rewarding. Crackling down a leaf-strewn path in the woods is as much of a fall tradition for me as Thanksgiving and pumpkins and Winesap apples. It’s something I look forward to every autumn.

This time of year was called “Taquitock” by the Algonquin people who lived in the area prior to the arrival of the British colonists. “Late fall” was one of five seasons on their calendar, a time for harvesting and feasting, as it still is today. After the hot and languid days of summer, the cooler temperatures and brilliant autumn sun energize me. Although the trails at First Landing State Park were carpeted with leaves on a recent Saturday morning, there’s still a beautiful red-gold canopy aloft. Colors sparkle through the maritime forest like a million jewels. The Algonquin people must have appreciated the fall festival at First Landing as much as I do.

In addition to First Landing State Park, Virginia Beach has a number of other places for walking in the woods. The Lake Smith / Lake Lawson Natural Area is awash in color, and with its new paths, benches and other facilities, is worth a visit. The Nimmo Trail and Greenway is also painted with color right now, as are the wooded areas around Stumpy Lake. Walkers and runners flock to these popular parks year-round, but especially in the fall. For a solitary walk in the woods, False Cape State Park is the best bet. It’s one of my favorite places in Virginia Beach, and no matter how many times I walk or bike there, I always find it to be fresh and fulfilling. Entry to False Cape is limited at this time of the year because Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge, which provides access to the park, closes its interior trails for the annual waterfowl migration. However, it’s still possible to get the park by walking south on the beach or by boat. I urge you to head for the woods. It’s not too late to get a fix of fall euphoria.First Ldg 8


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The Beach Report – May 9, 2014

Friday, May 9th, 2014 by Teresa Diaz

beach playThe sun is definitely shining on Virginia Beach! Every area of the city is bustling with activity. From the farms of Pungo to the sands of Chesapeake Beach and beyond, there’s something for just about everyone’s taste, including our beaches.  Many visitors (and some residents) are unaware that Virginia Beach offers beach lovers a variety of choices. Each of our free, public beaches have their own vibe. It’s Mother’s Day weekend……..why not let Mom choose which beach she’d like to relax on, and then help make it happen?  Remember, it’s her day!

Here’s an overview of our three public access beaches:

bike pathWhen thinking about Virginia Beach, the first beach that comes to mind for most is our Resort Area beach. A clean, free, 300 foot wide beach lays between the shore of the Atlantic and our famous 3 mile Boardwalk. Part of what makes this area so irresistible, the Virginia Beach Boardwalk offers a wide walking and skating area, a separate bike lane and dozens of benches and grassy areas. It is alive with activity throughout the day and into the evening as visitors come and go. From Croatan Beach to the south up to the North End beaches, this is where Virginia Beach reveals its outgoing nature, with a park like atmosphere that goes on for miles.

sandbridgeLocated 15 miles south of (and 180° opposite) the Resort Area, Sandbridge is a secluded beach hideaway of 5 miles of pristine sand dunes and dancing sea oats. It is a relaxing and peaceful community where you can truly slow down and unwind on your vacation. Beachside, the Atlantic never fails to entertain. And for those craving even more of the great outdoors, the marshes and open waters of Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge and False Cape State Park make for great kayaking, hiking, and fishing.

chicksFor beach goers looking for kinder, gentler waves, refuge can be found along the calm waters of the Chesapeake Bay, just off Shore Drive. From swimming to sand castles to volleyball, all the traditional beach rituals are here. And nothing’s better than an evening stroll or dining at a fine restaurant as the sun sets over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel.

Happy Mother’s Day and hope to see you on your favorite beach!

Photo credits: City of Virginia Beach CVB


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The Beach Report – November 8, 2013

Friday, November 8th, 2013 by Katherine Jackson

This week, Shorelines features blogger Katherine Jackson and a perfect “Beach Report.”  Enjoy!

Get Away to Sandbridge

Little Island ParkPeople sometimes ask: “Why do you take beach vacations when you live at the beach?” But living at the beach isn’t the same as vacationing at the beach. That’s why I didn’t hesitate when a group of friends asked if I wanted to join them for a weekend getaway at a house on the oceanfront at SandbridgeVirginia Beach’s southernmost neighborhood. The timing was ideal because fall is such a beautiful season at the beach. The summer crowds are gone, the sun is still warm, and the air is crisp. Perched on the deck of a house called San Se Air II, we watched dolphins swim past and an orange moon rise. We walked on the deserted beach, and biked on Sandfiddler Road, which parallels the ocean for five miles. On Sunday, we rode bikes into False Cape State Park, where I discover something new every time I visit. This time, we explored the mile-long Maple Leaf Trail, which begins at Back Bay. Over the dunes and through the woods, to the Atlantic Ocean we went. Leaves on the trees in the maritime forest had turned yellow and orange, and pine needles carpeted the fragrant trail. I didn’t see any maple trees, so back home and curious, I researched the trail on the know-it-all machine. The name commemorates The Maple Leaf Incident in which Confederate prisoners, who were being taken up the James River for imprisonment at Fort Delaware, commandeered the Army’s steamship USS Maple Leaf and headed south instead. Off the coast of what’s now False Cape State Park, they rowed ashore in the steamer’s small boats and escaped into the marshes of Back Bay. It’s easy to imagine disappearing into the maritime forest preserved by the park today. Several websites describe the four-thousand-acre park as “one of the few remaining undeveloped areas along the Atlantic Coast.” The Virginia Outdoors website provides maps of the trails, videos, and additional resources for exploring False Cape. At this time of year, access to the park is limited because the easiest way to get there is on the gravel roads that run through Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge, which is closed until April 1 to protect migrating birds. However, visitors can still access False Cape by walking south on the Refuge’s beach or by paddling a boat into the park via Back Bay. On weekends, visitors can catch a ride on the Terra Gator, a beach transporter that departs from Little Island Park at the south end of Sandbridge. The refuge was still open last Sunday when we visited, but we saw only a handful of people on the trails, and we had the entire beach to ourselves while we walked along the shore. That’s what makes False Cape such a special place. It’s not far from “civilization,” but it feels so remote. On the way home from Sandbridge, we stopped for lunch at Margie and Ray’s, a classic, down-home seafood restaurant. I ordered a supersized basket of hushpuppies, which came out just the way I like ‘em: hot, crusty and sweet. What a perfect way to end a weekend getaway to Virginia Beach.

SunriseBack Bay 4


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The Beach Report – January 11, 2013

Friday, January 11th, 2013 by Katherine Jackson

This week in The Beach Report, local walking tour guide Katherine Jackson shares her experience walking in a very unique beach community, Sandbridge.

 

Solitude at Sandbridge

SandbridgeIn an introduction to the book From the Beach to the Bay: An Illustrated History of Sandbridge, Virginia Beach City Councilwoman Barbara Henley wrote, “Sandbridge is a very special place. Some of my fondest memories from childhood were the trips to Sandbridge, which then was simply the expanse of sand, dunes, and ocean where the road abruptly ended by the old fish house. The car would be parked just at the side of the road – not far off enough to get stuck – and the family would walk over the dunes to the ocean. There might be another group or two on the beach, but chances would be good that not another soul would be around.”  Nowadays, things have changed, and Sandbridge is a thriving resort community with many year-round residents and viable restaurants and businesses. Grand vacation homes and quaint beach cottages line the fifteen-mile beach that extends from Dam Neck Naval Air Station at the north to Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge at the south. In the summer, Sandbridge is a lively family beach, a place to go for water sports and people watching. However, in the winter, the pace slows down, there’s an off-season feel to the place, and it’s still possible to find deserted stretches of beach.

                  Photo courtesy of Katherine Jackson

 

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An Unforgettable Virginia Beach RV Excursion

Wednesday, December 14th, 2011 by admin

Enjoy this post courtesy of ShoreLines guest blogger Joe Laing, Marketing Director for El Monte RV Rentals.

 

Photo courtesy of El Monte RV

Photo courtesy of El Monte RV

 

Fishing, paddling, hiking, biking or simply enjoying magnificent views — that’s what RV travelers to Virginia Beach can experience on their camping vacation. Mix in a visitor-friendly atmosphere and you’ve got the perfect place to park your RV.

An unforgettable Virginia Beach RV excursion begins with a remarkable coastal setting and expands to include nearly any kind of outdoor adventure. Come along as we describe just a few of the ways RV camping in Virginia Beach can become your favorite memory.

 

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A Virginia Beach mystery unraveled

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011 by Sherry Friel
Photo courtesy of Krissy Anderson

Photo courtesy of Krissy Anderson

Lately, I’ve been on a mad hunt for evidence to substantiate what I’ve long believed to be true: That Virginia Beach is a magical place—a virtual hotbed of creative energy and happiness. That once people move here, they magically and inexplicably unleash surges of previously unrealized talent and creativity. Some paint, others write gorgeous poetry and delve into photography or any number of creative arts. Local musicians are happily churning out some of the best songwriting and instrumentation anywhere. Case in point: I simply cannot get the song from a locally-produced and filmed music video out of my head. It’s called “Chillin’ in the Summer” by Tina Micula. Go ahead, I dare you to listen, but be warned: you will be humming it from now until summer! Whether you’re into jazz, folk, rock, or classical to name a few genres, chances are you’ll be in good company at the oceanfront.

Nathaniel takes 1st place in music creativity contest - Photo by Sherry Friel

Nathaniel takes 1st place in music creativity contest - Photo by Sherry Friel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Beach Report – March 18, 2011

Friday, March 18th, 2011 by Katherine Jackson

ShoreLines welcomes Katherine Jackson, author of Walking Virginia Beach, a guidebook that details 20 walks throughout Virginia Beach and surrounding cities. Katherine “lives the beach life” by taking full advantage of what the resort city offers every season of the year and by finding anyway possible to get outdoors.  She’ll share her experiences with us on ShoreLines, and here’s her first post – enjoy!

 

Back Bay Beach

Back Bay Beach

Warm, spring-like weather in March lured me to the southern end of Virginia Beach, where walking opportunities abound at two remote natural areas: Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge and False Cape State Park. What a perfect subject for my first post about walking in Virginia Beach. On a sunny Saturday morning, we walked a four-mile stretch of the beach – from the parking lot at the refuge to the northern edge of the state park — practically by ourselves. The hard-packed beach made for a perfect walking surface. Wind from the west-southwest pushed up the faces of the waves and caused rooster-tails to spray off the crests. Pelicans glided over the ocean looking for fish, hawks soared overhead and shorebirds skittered along the sand. It was beautiful. We stuck to the beach that day, but numerous trails for walking, biking, and wildlife-watching traverse the dunes, wind through the maritime forest, and stretch along the shore of Back Bay. Having such a solitary and peaceful place so close by is indeed a natural treasure.

Photo courtesy of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service


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