First Landing State Park Loop

  • Highlights: Broad Bay, bald cypress swamp, rare plants and wildlife 
  • Distance: 8.6 mile loop
  • Elevation change: 251 feet
  • Difficulty level: Moderate
  • Trailhead Parking: 2500 Shore Drive, Virginia Beach, VA, Trail Center Parking Area; park entry fee required
  • Website: First Landing State Park
  • Beer Pairings: Wasserhund Brewing Co.—Great Dane’ish Pilsner & Doggy Paddle IPA

The Hike:

First Landing is Virginia’s most popular state park with over one million visitors each year. This hike combines several trails into a loop traveling through many of the highlights of the park. The trails are well marked and well maintained.

Begin at the Trail Center. Pick up a trail map and get directions to the trailhead as several trails begin and end here and finding the correct starting point can be a bit tricky. As you leave the Trail Center, walk through the parking lot to the left and follow a short spur trail to the Cape Henry Trail (there is a bench and trail sign post here). 

Turn left on Cape Henry and walk past a bald cypress swamp on the right. At .1 miles reach the junction with the Bald Cypress Trail. Turn right here and pass though the gate (bikes are not allowed on this trail) and follow the red trail past the swamp. At .4 miles reach a trail junction and turn left on the yellow-blazed Fox Run Trail.

The Fox Run Trail first enters wetlands over a wooden boardwalk and then passes through a pine and hardwood forest. At .8 miles reach the junction with the orange-blazed Fox Run Trail. Turn left here as the trail travels beside Long Creek which feeds into Broad Bay. The views of the bay become more expansive as the you continue along the trail. Spanish Moss flourishes here in the oak trees.

The trail moves away from the shoreline and travels through wetlands which are home to many species of birds. At 1.7 miles an observation platform provides some nice views of the bay. A boardwalk provides an easy crossing over a marsh and then at a trail junction bear right to remain on the orange-blazed Long Creek Trail. 

Follow a wooden footbridge over a stream and marsh. White Hill Lake will soon be on the left. At 2.4 miles reach a trail junction and bear left to remain on the Long Creek Trail. The trail passes beside a small lake and then travels through a forest. At 4.0 miles at an unmarked trail junction, bear right and reach a marked junction with the green-blazed Osprey Trail. 

Turn right here and follow the Osprey Trail as the trail gradually leaves the woodlands and returns to the shoreline with some great bay and shoreline views. At 5.7 miles reach a trail junction and bear left to rejoin the orange-blazed Long Creek Trail. At the second junction bear right on the white-blazed Kingfisher Trail.

Follow the white trail through the forest and bear left on the green-blazed Cape Henry Trail. This multi-use trail passes through the forest and then the swamp with bald cypress trees. At 8.5 miles turn right on the short spur trail to return to the parking area and your vehicle.

Hike Photos:

Click on an image below for an enlarged view.

Beer Pairing: 

Wasserhund Brewing Company is located just a few miles from the trailhead in Virginia Beach. Wasserhund, “water dog” in German, specializes in German beer styles with 12 beer taps. They have indoor and outdoor seating, a variety of food options (including great pizza) and of course they are dog friendly.

Kathy liked Doggy Paddle (6.7% ABV, 70 IBU), a west coast IPA with citrus and fruit notes and a moderate level of bitterness. Pete’s favorite was Great Dane’ish (5.6% ABV, 22 IBU) a Czech Pilsner brewed with Nobel hops. Nothing goes better with great beer than great pizza. The signature Wasserhund pizza with bratwurst is as good as it gets.

Hike and drink responsibly. Never drink and drive. Stay safe, be responsible, and leave no trace.