Back Bay National Refuge is a federal park that connects at the south end to False Cape State Park. Cars are not allowed past the parking lot, so the only way to get into the state park is either hike or bike. Double-track and gravel roads. Not technical at all, but a pleasant cardio ride or great trip for the family. Plenty of wildlife to see. The Atlantic Ocean with secluded beaches is on the east side, with many sub-trails leading to it from the main trail. Swimming is not allowed in the national Refuge, but is allowed in the state park. Overall not challenging at all, but how many trails offer the chance to swim in the ocean with no crowds at the beach?? Pack a lunch, sunscreen, and swimsuit and take the family! NOTE: Should bring bugspray and plenty of water. Water is supposed to be available at the State Park, but I didn't find it!
General Booth Blvd to Princess Anne to Sandbridge Road. Take a right on Sandpiper Road and go to the end. Enter Back Bay National Refuge (pay small fee) and drive about 1 mile to parking lot. Plenty of parking. Get on your bike and take either the East or West Dike trails. Trail maps available.
Summary: As others have said, this is a very flat area. Gravel/dirt roads with some sandy spots. The roads get more curvy and fun once you make your way into False Cape SP through Back Bay Wildlife Refuge. You will see lots of wildlife. I suggest locking up your bike (bike racks in multiple locations) and hike through the sand to the beach. This isn't a "Mountain Bike" trail but more of an adventure route. A rigid MTB or Cyclocross bike is plenty for riding here. I've used a road bike with 32mm slicks out there before. A fat bike would be a ton of fun here.
3 stars overall because the riding isn't spectacular but the remote beaches are awesome.
Summary: How is this rated so high? This is not mountain biking, it's off road biking in the sand. I rode here a few times when I lived in Sandbridge, just up the road, and it's pretty boring, but about the only way to ride off of a road around Virginia Belch. The trail is a lot of sand with some pine trees and roots. There are no climbs to speak of, unless you consider a small dune a climb. As far as I can tell we got within a few miles of the North Carolina border before turning around because we were sick of how sandy and overgrown the trail got. It was worse the farther you got away from the end of the paved road. A Surly with giant wide tires might work well here. There are lots of wild animals here (I've been told), but while riding the trails, all I saw was some birds. You can see the wild horses (sometimes) just driving on the paved road into the wildlife refuge.
Recommended Route: Stay close to the paved road, because that's where the trail is maintained.
Other recommended trails in the same area: It's also not mountain biking, but the park around Cape Henry is good for general off road biking too.
Review Date May 6, 2003
Overall Rating 5 of 5
Ridden Trail: Every few months
Reviewed by: Len
, from Virginia Beach, VA
Summary: Bring plenty of water. Camelbak type gear is highly recommended. Bring Trail Foods. Energy bars, Beef Jerky, Sunflower Seeds, Peanuts, Starburst, Gizzards... JK. Ride near the coast or go directly to False Cape Contact Station. You may see many feral pigs, horses, cranes, turtles along the way. Rocky ride there. Front shocks reduce wrist impact. There is a spot you can rest and check out the view. You won't even realize you are still in Virginia Beach. Once there (3-5 miles, Contact Station) You get a bathroom, maps, signs like the Wizard of Oz, and a Soda/Water Matchine. Please close the lid. Go either left or right. Left has more options. From there Bike another 5 miles to False Cape Landing. Great views!! Great ride!! Polite Hikers and Bikers you may meet along the way. Say Hi. There is a boat dock (beautiful view) and Lookouts (beautiful views). Keep riding many options. There is historic sites here as well. You may even come across a cemetery! Be polite walk your bike. If you made it this far, you are 2.4 miles away from the North Carolina State Line. Bear East instead of South and there is a passable route to the Beach!! Woohoo!! Swimming is allowed at False Cape, but not at Back Bay Wildlife Refuge. You can see for miles. North or South. Not a single soul was on this beach. Well, there was 3 people there. My friend Adam, Eric and myself. Dunes are 2 stories tall. If you look back from one of these. You can see miles of forest you just passed. You can see for miles and realize that where you begun is nowhere in site! Climbing dunes is illegal so tread lightly. If you made it this far, You've traveled at LEAST 10 miles. Definitely Camera Material, all of it. Including the turtles. When the sun sets, it is even more beautiful. If you don't have a bike light. You are screwed. Especially if high tide hits. Bring bug juice (repellent) with you in hotter/more humid conditions. All in all, not for hardcore, trickstyle, stumpjumpin', badoodicle riding, (Helmet Required Trails), but definitely a 5-star ride.
Recommended Route: Park at Back Bay National Refuge. Entrance is 5$ for everyone in your vehicle. 2$ If you enter via Bike. Park and Gear up. Take Back Bay Wildlife Refuge 5 Miles to False Cape State Park Contact Station. Take that 5 miles to False Cape Landing. Take that 5 miles to the Beach or whatever floats your boat.
Other recommended trails in the same area: Make sure you invest in a comfortable seat.
Review Date October 24, 2002
Overall Rating 4 of 5
Ridden Trail: Once a week
Reviewed by: Pete
, from Va Beach
Summary: At the Ranger station you can look at some of the exhibits, then head south on the Dike trail for about 4 or 5 miles. It is packed dirt with an overlay of small stones. Not a very pleasant ride, and you for sure need a tire repair kit. You'll see tons of birds, feral pigs, ponies, deer, snakes, etc, etc. When you get to the treeline, you'll need to make another turn to the south to enter False Cape State Park. About 3/4 a mile later you'll see the Ranger Station on the right. The only approved drinking water in False Cape is a spigot to the left of the entrance to the Ranger's Office. From there you can take several paths, the most enjoyable and longest one heads toward the NC state line. It is a packed dirt trail which is a much smoother ride than the previous 3 miles. The deer flies are miserable, so if you don't have bug repellant on, you will regret it. There are several primitive campsites in the park, all requiring prior permission to camp at (reservations are available online http://www.dcr.state.va.us/parks/falscape.htm ) The Atlantic Ocean is a 1/2 mile spur away from the main trail, and you can sunbathe here all day and never see another soul. The best campsites are sites 10-12 located in a nice clearing about 2 1/2 miles south of the Ranger Station. Pit toilets are clean, there's well water to use to rinse off your stuff. If you camp, you can only use a propane / gas type stove, no open fires. The real bite is that even though the False Cape State Park is open year round, the Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge closes its interior trails from 01 Nov - 31 Marck, so you can only access False Cape via boat or the beach. You'll completely trash your bike on the beach, but it is a nice hike. Seems a silly rule, especially since the impact would probably be minimal, but I guess some of the migratory birds choose to nest along the dike trails. Makes me wonder how the park service vehicles manage to go to and fro... Overall a good, flat trail that is perfect if you like to be alone. Bring plenty of water, sunscreen, repellant, and a bike repair kit as you are pretty isolated and your cell phone won't work. I'm pretty biased as I live in Sandbridge, but it's a great trail to ride in the late afternoon after coming home from work. I just wish it was truly accessible year round.
Recommended Route: Best option is probably to park at Little Island Park just to the North of the Refuge. First 1 1/2 to 2 miles will be on an asphalt road, and you'll have to pay for parking and entrance to the refuge ($2 or $3 per vehicle / bike, unless you have a "Duck" Stamp).
Review Date August 8, 2002
Overall Rating 5 of 5
Ridden Trail: Ridden Once
Reviewed by: Mike Coyne
, from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Summary: Back Bay features a graveled dike road, marshy on both sides, pristine and beautiful beyond belief, rife with herons and egrets. About five miles in the trail in False Cape enters piney woods, very smooth, packed sand, easy ride for another 4-5 miles. Last two miles to the North Carolina line are soft sand, not passable by bike. Plan on hiking if you want to hit the boundary marker. Take plenty of water and don't attempt without insect repellent. Biting flies were wicked in late July, just in those last two miles. Ticks abound. Watch for the pony and pig herds. Know where water sources are and carry plenty.
Recommended Route: Trail maps available at Little Island at the head of the trail. Maps are deceptive, showing a 90 degree intersection to the Education Center with trail to state line continuing south. Reality is trail bends from north/south to east/west shortly before the center and you must make a left down a narrow trail to get to the state line.