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The northern end of the Cape Henry Trail follows a former railroad corridor built to connect the isolated Cape Henry to Norfolk. In 1902, a second rail line to Virginia Beach was developed through Cape Henry, a popular destination. While the vision of a new resort at Cape Henry was promising, and Norfolkians enjoyed spending time on the cape, the rail line ultimately proved more significant for the development of Virginia Beach.
Today, the Cape Henry Trail provides opportunities for recreation, sightseeing, and access to local restaurants and shops around the community through its total 7.5-mile stretch. The first 1.5 miles are within the city, and the remaining 6 miles run through the First Landing State Park, connecting with other recreational trails.
The Cape Henry Trail begins on Jade Street, about 350 feet south of US 60/Shore Drive, in a residential neighborhood. The asphalt portion of the trail is ADA-accessible, but use caution as it crosses several local roads before reaching the First Landing State Park entrance at Kendall Street in 1.5 miles.
After continuing for about 1 mile on paved terrain, the trail meets a local road leading to the Trail Center on the left, across from the VA 343 intersection. Wheelchair-accessible parking, picnic tables, drinking fountains, restrooms, and bike racks are available at the Trail Center. Returning to the Cape Henry Trail, the surface shifts to mostly dirt and sand.
In less than a quarter mile, you reach a viewing bridge overlooking the bald cypress swamps. After passing the lookout, the trail contains more bumps and uneven surfaces while still staying at a level grade. Throughout the trail, the conditions are bumpy in certain areas. Tree roots and small depressions could pose problems for smaller-tired bikes and wheelchairs, particularly in muddy conditions after a rainy day. The terrain conditions stay consistent for the next 3.5 miles.
Within the state park, you can experience a variety of ecosystem transitions, from maritime forests to bald cypress swamps and salt marshes. Spread out along the trail are benches and HealthTrek exercise systems that go beyond monkey bars and a pull-up station.
Nearing the southern end of the Cape Henry Trail, you will pass the First Landing State Park 64th Street entrance, which connects to a residential neighborhood with parking options. Past the entrance, the terrain turns sandy with a narrower path, which may prove difficult for bikes and wheelchairs. Ecosystems such as salt marshes and sandy shorelines present opportunities for fishing and osprey sightings. The trail ends at the 64th Street Narrows, which offers additional parking, restrooms, and a boat ramp.
Recent improvements to the Cape Henry Trail within the state park include benches alongside the path and renovated restrooms at the 64th Street Narrows. In the city, the addition of a multiuse path on the Lesner Bridge over Lynnhaven Inlet has improved the active-transportation system around Shore Drive. Future improvements aim to connect neighborhoods south of the trail as well as develop additional pedestrian and bike facilities between Shore Drive and the Cape Henry Trail.
Parking can be found at the Shore Drive Entrance (Cypress Swamp Dr/VA 343 & Conservation Ct), by the Trail Center (2500 Shore Dr), at the 64th St Entrance (64th St), and at The Narrows (64th St Narrows).
Parking for the Cape Henry Trail is available in First Landing State Park. From Virginia Beach, take US 60/Atlantic Avenue north to 64th Street and turn left. Look for signs to parking.
To access the trailhead on the western edge of the park, continue on US 60 from Virginia Beach; the road will eventually angle west to become Shore Drive. Turn left on Cypress Swamp Dr/State Route 343, then take the next right and follow the signs to parking. Alternatively, continue on Cypress Swamp Dr/SR 343 to park headquarters.
User fees apply (minimal) and are less during the off-season.
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