Our city is best known for miles of golden, sandy beaches, but we’ve got an adventurous side, too! In fact, you’ll find miles of easy and family-friendly hiking trails that crisscross our beautiful state parks, nature preserves, wildlife refuges, and natural areas. These trails meander across freshwater swamps, alongside lakes and to overlooks for panoramic views across the ocean and the bay. When you’re ready to get in tune with nature, these relaxing hikes in Virginia Beach are ready for you.

Mount Trashmore - Family


Mount Trashmore Loop

At 1.9 miles, the easy-breezy Lake Trashmore Loop wraps around much of Mount Trashmore Park, including Lake Trashmore. This easy and flat multi-use path is well-suited for all levels, including families with tiny tots in strollers.

Kick it up a notch by climbing more than 60 steps to the top of Mount Trashmore for scenic 360-degree panoramas. You can also fly kites and enjoy a picnic at the top of Mount Trashmore. If you’re traveling with your dog, bring him along, as this is a pet-friendly hiking spot.

After your walk, it’s playtime, if you’ve arrived with little ones. Let the kids run around at either of the two playgrounds at Mount Trashmore Park, including the Kids Cove Playground, which features play structures, slides, swings and elevated walkways. (Note that this ADA-compliant playground is currently undergoing renovations, which are expected to be completed by Summer 2024.)


Stumpy Lake


Stumpy Lake Loop

At 1.5 miles in length, the scenic loop trail at Stumpy Lake Natural Area wins over visitors of all ages with plenty of shade and bald cypress trees. It’s another pet-friendly hike, so you can take your furry friend along with you for the day, too!

Before you really get going, pause to take in the stunning views across 278-acre Stumpy Lake, which sits adjacent to the parking area. An ADA-compliant overlook off Elbow Road ensures that everyone gets a chance to admire the scenery. 

The trail at Stumpy Lake Natural Area is just right for hiking, walking and trail running. Birdwatchers, bring your binoculars. Keep your eyes open for great blue herons, mallards and bald eagles, which you might see near the lake.

Toward the middle of the loop trail, a connector trail allows visitors to loop back to the parking lot if you prefer a shorter 0.7-mile loop hike.


Bald Cypress Trail


Bald Cypress Trail

For a scenic and dog-friendly hike through enchanting cypress swamps, the Bald Cypress Trail at First Landing State Park features a scenic 1.8-mile loop, which includes wooden boardwalks and platforms with views of freshwater swamp and curious bald cypress trees. In spring, the trail also wows with an abundance of wildflowers.

The trailhead is easy to access, so get ready to jump right in. It’s adjacent to the Trail Center and the parking lot on the south side of Shore Drive.

If you’re visiting with kids, pick up the colorful Kids in Parks brochures at the trailhead, which feature four fun-filled adventures for littles. One brochure is called The Need for Trees and helps children identify trees along the Bald Cypress Trail.

If you still have energy to burn, also try the 3.2-mile Osmanthus Trail, which shares a trailhead with the Bald Cypress Trail and also features striking bald cypress trees as the main attraction.


Cape Henry Trail


Cape Henry Trail

At 6.1 miles (one-way), the Cape Henry Trail is the longest trail within First Landing State Park. The shady trail stretches from the park’s northern border on Shore Drive to the southernmost entrance off Atlantic Avenue at 64th Street, which means you can get your steps in on this trail regardless of which park entrance you choose. Of course, you can do as much or little of this six-mile trail as you like.

Budding birdwatchers, keep your eyes open for osprey and egrets, as well as the occasional bald eagle on the Cape Henry Trail.

The Cape Henry Trail branches off into other hiking trails such as the Kingfisher Trail and the White Hill Lake Trail.

After your hike, reward yourself with an ice cream treat or snack at the camp store and on-site grill just across Shore Drive. A small science lab and historic exhibits add to the fun at First Landing State Park.


Lake Lawson/Lake Smith Natural Area


Lake Lawson/Lake Smith Natural Area

If you’re looking for a relaxing nature adventure, head over to the 42-acre Lake Lawson/Lake Smith Natural Area, which features an easy 1.6-mile loop trail with benches and overlooks. Enjoy serene water views across Lake Lawson and Lake Smith.

Along this well-maintained route, take in the forested views of pine and bald cypress trees, as well as mountain laurel in the spring. Post-hike, kids can burn off some energy at the playground while you set up a picnic lunch at a picnic shelter.

Bring your rods and reels, too: This is a popular park for fishing, so try your luck at catching largemouth bass, black crappie or bluegills to add to your family adventure.


Sunset over Pleasure House Point in Virginia Beach

Pleasure House Point Natural Area

Pleasure House Point Natural Area sits next to Pleasure House Creek and Crab Creek. It’s popular with hikers and dog walkers thanks to a scenic expanse of salt marshes, maritime forests and tidal creeks. Two trails, the Beach Trail and the Meadow Trail, connect to form a two-mile loop that circumnavigates Pleasure House Point. A small sandy beach on the north end of the park is popular with pups and children eager for a refreshing splash. Kiddos will also go wild for the playground at Loch Haven Park, which sits adjacent to this 118-acre natural area.


There is no dedicated parking area for Pleasure House Point Natural Area, but there are plenty of legal parallel parking spaces on Marlin Bay Drive. The park is across from a single-family subdivision, but once you’re enveloped by the loblolly pines and marsh grasses, you’ll feel miles away from the suburban bustle.


Sand Ridge Trail


Sand Ridge Trail

From Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge, board the tram to False Cape State Park for a four-hour ranger-led tour that includes stops on the Sand Ridge Trail and Wash Woods Trail. The latter leads to a historic site that features a church steeple and cemetery. Tip: Book your seats on the tram ahead of time. The tram costs $8 per adult and runs on select days, depending on the season. This adventure is suitable for elementary through high-school aged kids, as the littlest ones may not be as tolerant of a four-hour excursion.


After the tour, let the kids lead the adventure with a hike on the Sand Ridge Trail, an easy trail that runs along the spine of False Cape State Park. Side trails split off the Sand Ridge Trail, guiding visitors to views of the ocean and the bay, as well as maritime forests, marshes, and wooded swamps.


Stop in the visitor center for frozen treats and souvenirs. You’ll also want to snap a photo of the Instagram-worthy “Southernmost Virginia State Park” buoy.


Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge


Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge

Sprawling across 9,108 acres, Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge protects a variety of native habitats, including sand dunes, freshwater marsh, shrub-scrub, and upland forest. It’s also home to four short and scenic hiking trails, including the Raptor Trail and the Dunes Trail, both of which top out at just 1 mile. There are also two short “leg stretcher” hikes, including the 0.2-mile Charles Kuralt Trail and the 0.4-mile Seaside Trail, which has beach mats that allow access for wheelchair users.


The easy hiking trails at Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge reward visitors with glistening views across the Atlantic Ocean and Back Bay. The Raptor Trail is popular in the late afternoon among golden hour enthusiasts for its west-facing views from Sunset Point Overlook. On the Dunes Trail, a wildlife viewing window allows for bird and wildlife watching. All trails are flat and perfect for an easy stroll.