I recently signed on to write my second hiking guidebook with Falcon Guides, this time on the best coastal trails of Delaware, Maryland and Virginia. I am very excited.
On the hunt for sandy shores and scenic coastal trails I recently found myself at the 118-acre Pleasure House Point Natural Area in Virginia Beach.
There are two trails – Meadow Trail and Beach Trail – that make up a two-mile loop that encircles the natural area with views aplenty of maritime forest and tidal marsh.
There isn’t much signage, but generally, if you stay right, you’ll be on the correct path. With an elevation gain of seven feet, it’s okay to veer off course now and again.
|Elevation Gain||7 feet|
|Terrain||Mostly sand, some gravel|
|Driving Directions||Click Here|
Arriving at the Trailhead
There is no designated parking lot for Pleasure House Point Natural Area. I even verified this on the website for the City of Virginia Beach. Interesting.
Thankfully, there are plenty of parallel spots along Marlin Bay Drive. Once you make the turn from Shore Drive, you’ll immediately see cars parked on the side of the road.
The trailhead is roughly .1-mile from Shore Drive on the right (when driving east along Marlin Bay Drive). There is also a large trail sign to the left of the trailhead.
The First Steps
The hiking trail – Beach Trail, to be exact – starts out sandy (well, this is a coastal trail). At the .1-mile mark, you can either turn left or turn right to go around a pond.
I opted to go right. There were quite a few people at the natural area this day, and I was pretty much the only one to stay right to walk the perimeter of the small pond.
The trail is flat and sandy with pine needles scattered here and there from coastal pines. At the .3-mile mark you’ll be around the pond and back to where you started.
Stay right for the Meadow Trail and Beach Trail. A tidal marsh turns up on the left with more coastal loblolly pines as you continue walking on the sandy trail.
Pleasure House Creek is now on your right. Keep your eyes open for oysters that grow at the water’s edge. They are especially plentiful at low tide.
At the .6-mile mark, stay to the right to continue along the perimeter of the natural area. Marsh grasses and coastal pines flank either side of the hiking trail.
A small sandy beach turns up at the 1.0-mile mark. I saw several small children and active pups there living their best lives – splashing and running in the shallow water.
Continue alongside Crab Creek to see free-standing placards set up by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation to educate visitors on climate change and the health of the Chesapeake Bay.
At the 1.2-mile mark, there is a comfy bench where the trail splits in two. Stay to the right to continue on. Then, another delightful small pond on the left.
Even better – for children, at least – a nice playground appears on the right just past the pond. You are now passing through Lockhaven Park.
In a few more steps, you’ll enjoy a brief break from sandy trail as you step foot on a brick-paved path that leads to the Brock Environmental Center.
The path shortly picks back up – now as gravel. Turn right to continue on (I told you, just keep to the right and you’ll be okay). At the 1.6-mile mark, you have a choice.
Here, you reach Marlin Bay Drive. You can either walk along the sidewalk to return to your car. Or, you can stay left to pop back onto the path (okay yes, this time left).
At the 1.7-mile mark, you’ll return to a familiar trail. Turn right and re-trace your steps from here to your car parked on Marlin Bay Drive.
From my car, this hike took me less than one hour. I was moving at a good clip, but I encourage you to stop for a splash on the beach and to observe wildlife and waterfowl.
For those eager to take on a second (or third) hike, First Landing State Park in Virginia Beach is a short eight minutes away by car. This is the most-visited state park in Virginia.