Thursday, April 14, 2016

False Cape Hike - First Day

I used to hike all the time in Back Bay Wildlife Refuge, getting to False Cape State Park a few times.  But it has been three years since I was there, and it felt good to get back.  My first day of the three day backpacking trip mainly involved just getting to the park.  From the parking lot at Little Island City Park, it was about a 6.5 mile hike to my campsite. I've marked my track in orange on the map below, with the orange arrow showing the location of my campsite, campsite #5.  The park has 12 campsites, and sites 1-6 have drinking water available by way of two taps.  The other six sites (which are a good two mile walk further south of the first six sites) have no drinkable water, and I doubt there is any good fresh water source on the barrier island that humans could drink.

Between April and October, one can hike through Back Bay on one of the two dike trails through the Wildlife Refuge.  In this case, it was the west dike trail that was open.  Most of the side trails were closed off to protect wildlife, so I didn't do any exploration along the way.  It was just a point to point hike, carrying my pack, and getting to my campsite.  I did watch for wildlife along the way in the wetland environment, and did see a fair variety of birds and many, many turtles.  A complete list of critters seen during my hike can be viewed here.  Weather-wise, last Friday was by far the pick of the three days - sunny, no wind, and temperature topping out near 60 F. I saw a number of day hikers in BBNWR.

Here are some photos from my first day in Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge and False Cape State Park.  On the hike in along the refuge road, there is an osprey nest with a pair of these fish hawks setting up housekeeping.

Turtles, probably yellow bellied sliders, catching some rays to elevate their body temperature.

A lot of the walk through the refuge involved walking along the gravel road with water just to the side, so there was always the chance to see wetland oriented wildlife.

Here is one yellow bellied slider that didn't mind me being fairly close.  Usually, they dive if one gets within 60 feet.

Some of the pathway went away from water and through a coastal forest.

Wild azaleas, I believe.

American coots swimming at the boundary to False Cape State Park.

Upon reaching the entrance to the park.

I got my campsite set up right away down near the ocean....

hung my food bag (no bears but raccoons, opossums, and foxes) ...

and walked through the dunes.....

to explore the beach a little bit.  This is the most remote beach in Virginia, and one of the most remote and pristine on the east coast.  It is wonderful to have such a beach preserved for public and wildlife use.

After a delicious dinner of curry in a hurry, I walked and explored a few miles, and saw many animals.  I got back to my camp, looked at stars (no ambient light makes for great viewing), read a bit, and then slept like a log during the fairly cool (for April) night.


  1. Looks like a great place for hiking. Beautiful pictures. Like the turtles. Miss seeing them at the lake where I used to live. Haven't seen any turtles around here.

  2. Yep, it's a great place to hike and to see wildlife. I love seeing turtles as well - fascinating animals!

  3. We just booked camp site 4 so reading your review is fantastic. Thank you for sharing.

    1. I love it there. Hope you have a wonderful time!