Noland Trail: An Easy Loop Hike Around The Mariners’ Lake in Newport News

The beautiful Noland Trail is a forested 5.6-mile trail that circumnavigates 167-acre The Mariners’ Lake in Newport News, Virginia.

This hiking trail is located at Mariners’ Museum and Park. Along the trail, there are wooden bridges, benches and overlooks, even James River views. 

This lake was once called Lake Maury, named for a Confederate officer named Matthew Fontaine Maury. It was changed to The Mariners’ Lake in June 2020.

The easy walking path was named for the Noland Family, a generous local family that gifted the land and the lake to Newport News. 

Trail Stats
Length5.6 miles
Trail TypeLoop
Elevation Gain177 feet
Duration2-3 hours
TerrainMostly dirt & sand trails, some wooden bridges
Driving DirectionsClick Here

The Mariner’s Museum and Park 

Plan to park in the large lot in front of The Mariners’ Museum, a 60,000-square-foot museum that explores global maritime history.

The north entrance trailhead is across Museum Drive from the parking lot. There is a bench, a water fountain and a trail map to mark the start of the hike.

From here, the wooded trail quickly descends into the forest, then crosses the first of 14 bridges that guide visitors over The Mariners’ Lake.

Noland Trail 

The Noland Trail starts out as paved, but then turns to mostly dirt and sand after the first bridge over an inlet of The Mariners’ Lake (on a clockwise hike).

At the 0.2-mile mark, you’ll reach a small peninsula with a wooden overlook and a couple of benches. It’s a serene place to enjoy views across the lake. 

Continue on until you cross a bridge that parallels Warwick Boulevard at the 0.4-mile mark. Each bridge is marked with a number on each side of the bridge.

Cars motoring north and south can be noisy, but then you return to the quiet of the wooded property. Pine Tree Overlook is at the 0.7-mile mark.

There are plenty of benches scattered across this trail, too. Keep your eyes open for a mile marker to turn up every half mile.

At the 1.8-mile mark, you’ll pass Williams Field Park. There’s a ball field and a green space that’s a great place to run and play. Also, a few neglected picnic areas.

Oak Tree Overlook 

The Noland Trail sidles up against a park road at the 2.0-mile mark, then proceeds to Oak Tree Overlook. This lake overlook is large and has several benches.

From the overlook, re-trace your steps to the Noland Trail, then turn right to continue on the hiking trail, which is popular for trail running on nice days.

At the 2.5-mile mark, you’ll reach two picnic tables by the lake. It’s a nice place to enjoy an al fresco picnic lunch as a family before continuing on the trail.

You’ll then cross over bridge number seven. Keep walking until you reach the 3.3-mile mark. Here you can walk right out to the edge of The Mariners’ Lake.

Lions Bridge 

In a few more steps, you’ll cross over the famed Lions Bridge, which looks over the mighty James River. After you cross the bridge, the trail pops back into the forest.

But first, pass a restoration of Anna Hyatt Huntington’s statue called Conquering the Wild. The statue overlooks The Mariners’ Lake and the James River.

At the 3.6-mile mark, a short spur trail (that’s easy to miss) leads to a small grove of longleaf pines. The longleaf pine is one of nine native pine species in Virginia.

Re-trace your steps, then turn left onto the mostly flat trail. You’ll reach the Holly Tree Overlook for more refreshing lake views at the 4.3-mile mark. 

At the 5.3-mile mark, you’ll sidle up against Museum Drive, then pass the NOAA National Marine Sanctuary and the Mariners’ Museum, both on your right.

In a few more steps, you’ll arrive at the parking area and your hike is complete. This is a great trail and one that can be enjoyed by the entire family.

Wrap-Up Notes

From the Mariners’ Museum parking lot, this hike took me nearly two hours, including time spent snapping photos at bridges and overlooks.

As you pass the Mariners’ Museum, note that there are restrooms and a small cafĂ© inside with quick meals, snacks and cold drinks.

Up for a second hike? It’s a short drive to Sandy Bottom Nature Park for kid-friendly hiking trails. Or, check out my favorite hikes near Williamsburg, Virginia.