Like many of you, the PDC and TPO staff have been staying at home, working, educating, parenting, relaxing, and yearning to get outside when the weather turns in our favor. Some families have taken the opportunity to begin exploring parts of Hampton Roads in new ways. People in our region are fortunate to have the ability to travel about 40 miles in any direction and discover new places, explore different environments, and hopefully see some wildlife. One weekend visit included Fort Monroe National Monument just outside of Hampton. Fortunately, easy paths allow for people of all abilities to walk, bike, and ride and provide multiple opportunities for fun and educational exploration of this historic area. Other bike adventures include the Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge in Chesapeake, False Cape State Park within the Back Bay Wildlife Refuge in Virginia Beach, and Newport News Park. All offer miles and miles of exploration for both inexperienced and experienced bikers.
By foot, Chesapeake’s Northwest River Park offered up to a 5-mile hike and for those interested, critters like a slimy salamander and a red belly water snake are just a few that can be seen. Merchant’s Mill Pond, while technically not in the Hampton Roads region, is just a quick hop over the North Carolina state line and offered up a 6-mile hike with views of a green swamp teeming with life. Suffolk also has a lovely hiking area at Lone Star Lakes Park, but be careful; ticks can be lively during a warm day.
For more biking, consider the Virginia Capital Trail in James City County, where the Southern Terminus can guide you to Downtown Richmond on over 50 miles of paved trails. The Virginia Capital Trail is a great way to explore many parts of the Peninsula, including the Chickahominy River, Richmond National Battlefield, Charles City, and breathtaking views of Downtown Richmond and the James River. Other biking, hiking, walking opportunities on the Peninsula in our region include York River State Park, the Noland Trail in Newport News, and Freedom Park in Williamsburg/James City County.
On the opposite side of the James River, Chippokes Plantation State Park, Windsor Castle Park in Smithfield, and Carrollton Nike Park all have hiking, fishing, wildlife, and much to explore. While you’re on the Southside, grab your bike and go check out the Elizabeth River Trail in Downtown Norfolk. The Elizabeth River Trail goes through the City of Norfolk and connects you to multiple parks and tons of restaurants along the way.
While the goal is to stay away from folks, there are plenty of options for hiking, a little biking, and running at First Landing State Park in Virginia Beach, but its recommended to go weekdays when it's less crowded. You can choose between the main trail (Cape Henry Trail), or if you want an adventure, check out the White Hill Lake Trail or Osprey Trail. Bug spray is highly recommended this time of year on all trails and many are pet friendly.
Once you’ve explored all of the region by land, don’t forget to head on over to HRPDC’s fishswimplay.com web app to find all of the places to fish, boat, and view the water in the region.