VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WRIC) — For this week’s 8News Daytrippers, Anchor Morgan Dean traveled to the coast of Virginia.
Walkers, campers, hikers, bikers, kayakers and birdwatchers are all flocking to the Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge.
“When you get out into Back Bay,” says Manager Doug Brewer, “you can get into areas where you don’t see houses; you don’t hear traffic.”
It’s as wild as it gets along mainland Virginia’s Atlantic coast and it’s hard to believe that this is within Virginia Beach City Limits, just a few miles down the beach from the busy boardwalk near Sandbridge.
“We have about 9,200 acres at Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge, about nine miles of hiking trails,” Brewer said.
Those trails are open for biking, too, and Morgan found plenty of people out pedaling during a visit last week. The seats of kayaks and canoes are also great places to get a look at nature in all its glory.
The trails and overlooks offer views of all kinds of wild animals including the occasional bobcat and coyote, but mostly its birds that you will find across the grassy marshlands.
“Our primary purpose here at Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge is for wintering waterfowl and other migratory birds,” Brewer said.
An antenna tower sits next to the visitor center. It helps track some of the birds who have been tagged as they head north or south during their migrations.
“This time of year, we have a lot of wading birds like herons and egrets,” Brewer continues.
At the refuge, you will also find miles and miles of untouched beach in its natural state. You can’t swim, but you can go fishing and exploring.
At the edge of Back Bay, you’ll also find a Virginia State Park. False Cape State Park, just south of Back Bay, also offers hiking and biking but visitors can also spend the night at the park’s primitive campground. That park stretches all the way to the North Carolina line.
“We have a tram system that will shuttle people from the refuge to False Cape State Park,” Brewer said. “That’s a great opportunity for folks to get down to False Cape without having to do the three mile hike or bike ride.”