When you’re ready for some quiet time in Virginia Beach, look to this outdoor retreat just south of Sandbridge Beach. Natural beauty flourishes on this coastline which has been under protection as a refuge since 1938. Turtles sun on waterside logs. White-tailed deer graze on grass and shrubs. Ospreys soar overhead. A secluded setting invites slow walking, beachcombing, and animal watching.
This national wildlife refuge spans over 9,000 acres. It includes a narrow strip of barrier island, affording views across Back Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. Maps available on site detail eight miles of well-marked and maintained trails for walking, including boardwalk paths through the marshes. Or purchase a seat on the Blue Goose Tram and relax on a guided tour through the refuge and down to False Cape State Park. Bikes are permitted on a seasonal basis.
Over 300 bird species have been sighted here, so bring binoculars to watch them, add to your birding list, and catch views of land animals. Flocks of descending white snow geese are a special winter treat.
Approximately 30 minutes by car from central Virginia Beach, the drive to the refuge is beautiful, with lovely views of the waterfront. For directions and additional information, check the Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge website, or call (757) 301-7329.Before setting out on the trails fill your water bottles and pocket some snacks since the trails remain as nature intended. Definitely take along bug spray, especially during the summer.
Trails and special wildlife viewing stations are open year-round from dawn to dusk. The Visitor Station opens daily with the exception of Sundays from November through March, most holidays, and special closing days. It is staffed on Memorial Day, July 4th, and Labor Day. Visitor Station hours are 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the weekend. There is no entry fee from November through March.