Autumn is truly the best time of year to get outdoors and go exploring! My doggy pal and travel companion “Rugby” and I were recently discussing some of our favorite go-to spots. Here’s a few of our most treasured hiking locations in the Hampton Roads area. You’ll be familiar with some, but we might have some hidden gems too!
First Landing State Park— Virginia Beach
With 20 miles of trails and a mile and a half of sandy beach, you’ll be sure to find the perfect adventure with your canine sidekick. We love the numerous options for a day in the sun, whether enjoying a swim and dolphin-watching on the Chesapeake Bay side of the park or exploring the maritime forests and trails on the interior portion of the park. Consider bringing the kayak and enter First Landing at the 64th Street boat ramp area. It’s an easy paddle and there’s lots of sandy beaches to pull off for a bite to eat and a game of fetch. There’s a small entry fee, but you’ll find it a totally worthwhile investment. First Landing State Park
Pleasure House Point Natural Area— Virginia Beach
One of our favorite hidden gems off Shore Drive in Virginia Beach, this pristine parcel of 118 acres is the perfect spot for a quiet walk along sandy trails. Watch herons, egrets, ospreys and more soaring through the skies or expertly catching fish and crabs along the shore. Bring a camera and take home some memories of this beautiful setting. Pleasure House Point Natural Area
Norfolk Botanical Gardens— Norfolk
Did you know dogs are welcome at the Botanical Gardens on Sundays? We think it’s the best day of the week for that simple reason. You won’t run out of paths to explore or sites to make you go ahhh when visiting this kaleidoscope of continuous colors. Every nook and cranny of the Botanical Gardens is magical. There’s an entry fee for you and your pup if you aren’t a Garden member, but we’re sure that you’ll quickly become a member after your very first visit. Yes, it’s just that special. Norfolk Botanical Gardens
Elizabeth River Trail— Norfolk
Whether hiking or biking with your pooch, you’ll find an equal mix of iconic urban and suburban sights along this 10.5 mile trail. The trail begins at Harbor Park in downtown Norfolk, then onto the historic Freemason District and Fort Norfolk before wending its way through the (dog-friendly, brewery and eatery-rich) Chelsea district. You’ll pass through stately West Ghent and traverse the ODU campus before reaching the serene beauty of the Hermitage Museum and Gardens. It’s a well-marked and (always improving) trail that tours some of the best sights that Norfolk has to offer. Elizabeth River Trail
Fort Monroe— Hampton
Fort Monroe offers a little something for everyone. Love the beach? Check. Enthralled with history and cobblestone streets? They’ve got that covered too. Looking for an open field to toss the tennis ball? This is your place. For a great variety of settings, little compares to Fort Monroe on the shores of the Chesapeake Bay. After your walk, cool off with a craft beer and some food at the dog-friendly Oozlefinch Brewery. Fort Monroe
Grandview Nature Preserve— Hampton
We’ve lived here about a dozen years and only recently learned of the Grandview Nature Preserve. What a special place! Walk along the shore of the Chesapeake Bay to Factory Point on this 475 acre preserve. Bring a camera for some amazing photos of pelicans, loons, ducks and more. One caveat is that WAZE took us to a really wrong location, so be sure to check a map before heading there for the first time. Dogs are allowed September 15th- April 1st. Grandview Nature Preserve
Noland Trail @ Mariners’ Museum— Newport News
For a bit more of an aerobic workout, check out the Noland Trail. It offers a little more elevation change than we typically find near the coast. Ascending and descending wooded trails on 550 acres will get your calves in shape in no time. The park has a great variety of sites and pretty vistas. Be sure to say hello to the friendly turtles that dwell in Mariners’Lake. Noland Trail
These are just a few of our favorite haunts when out and about. Our region offers so much diversity depending on the type of hikes you love to do. Where’s your favorite place to hike with your dog? Drop us a line. We’ll check it out and report back. We love the opportunity to find new places, new smells and chance to lift our leg and let everyone know we’ve been there!