Situated between the Atlantic Ocean and Back Bay, False Cape State Park is one among the few undeveloped areas remaining along the Atlantic Coast. Formerly a home to Native Americans, a Coast Guard station, and the historic community of Wash Woods, the state park pays tribute to the hardy people who once made a living from the ocean. Within False Cape are numerous opportunities to experience and discover nature in a primitive, unique setting.
The park got its name due to the fact that it could easily be mistaken for Cape Henry, which is actually located at the entrance of Chesapeake Bay approximately twenty miles north, from the ocean. This misleading impression would lure boats and ships that were seeking Cape Henry into its shallow water, causing these boats to run aground. The historic Wash Woods community, which is now abandoned, was created by shipwreck survivors during the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries.
The Wash Woods Environmental Education Center in False Cape State Park is converted hunt clubhouse. In 2002, undeveloped areas of the park were named as the False Cape Natural Area Preserve. At the park's south end is a monument with "N Ca" on one side and "Va." On the other. Even though the monument features the date "A.D. 1728" at the top, it's more likely that it was established in 1887 when the boundary of the two states was surveyed again, considering the original border was marked by a simple cedar post. 1728 was when the current border was first surveyed.
Those visiting False Cape State Park should make sure they are prepared for various weather conditions. Visitors should remember to bring insect repellent, sunscreen, and plenty of drinking water. The park can only be reached by foot, beach transport, bicycle, boat, or tram. There is no access for public vehicles. From the beginning of April until the end of October tram transportation is provided through Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge, where visitors will need to pay an entrance fee. From the beginning of November through the end of March, visitors can access False Cape by boat, by biking or hiking along the shoreline, or through the Terra-Gator, the beach transporter of the park. Those wishing to access the park via the beach transporter can call to make a reservation.
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Guided kayak trips, interpretive programs, biking trails, hiking trails, primitive camping, and six miles of a pristine sandy Atlantic Ocean beach are all offered at False Cape State Park. Five self-guided trails, hiking trails, trails, and bicycle trails can be found throughout the park. These trails, including the self-guided interpretive trail of Barbour Hill, total a distance of 15.3 miles. The trails are an ideal way for visitors to explore the nature of the park.
The location of False Cape on a barrier spit provides visitors with opportunities to view the bay, marshes, wooded swamps, maritime pine and oak forests, dunes, and beaches all in just a single visit. While there is a beach within the park, there are no areas designated for swimming. Motorboats are allowed in the park, as well as saltwater and freshwater fishing as long as visitors possess a valid fishing license for Virginia.
4001 Sandpiper Road, Virginia Beach, Virginia, Phone: 757-426-7128
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