First Landing State Park
Distance/Time: First Landing offers 10 trails covering 19 miles in its 2,888-acre park; its longest, the Cape Henry Trail, acts as a 6-mile pathway for bikes and pedestrians. Hikes can take anywhere from 30 minutes on the smaller, connecting trails to several hours on the longer, intermediate-level trips.
What to expect: The most visited state park in Virginia, First Landing marks the site where English settlers first stepped foot in the New World in 1607, hence its name (although you’ll still hear locals call the park by its former moniker, Seashore). And there’s no shortage of historic figures who have left their tracks in the park’s paths: Blackbeard and his fellow pirates are rumored to have made a hideout in the Narrows, which is now a popular beachgoers’ inlet. Nowadays, explorers can make their way through seven different ecosystems full of natural treasures, including sweeping dunes, serene swamps, trees veiled in Spanish moss, and dazzling views of the Chesapeake Bay. During the cooler months of the fall and winter you can spot great blue herons, great horned owls, foxes, and, in rare instances, bobcats.