Running Adventures: Refuge Refresher

Words by Karen Lindauer

Recently I spent some time getting back on the trails in search of my love for running.  It’s been a long, hard winter full of cold weather which has token a toll on my enthusiasm for the sport.  Maybe it was the monotony of running on the same hard asphalt, or maybe I just lost sight of why I like to run altogether because it hasn’t been so easy lately.  Either way, it was time to run somewhere that always makes me feel rejuvenated.  Back Bay Wildlife Refuge.

It baffles me that so many Hampton Roads residents have never been to Back Bay Wildlife Refuge or False Cape State Park.  Humor me;  Imagine yourself driving south all the way down Sandpiper Road in Sandbridge until the road ends. I know what you are thinking; “Oh my gosh, that is SO far.  I would need to take snacks!”.  Well, pack yourself an apple and a granola bar because it needs to happen folks.

At the south end of Sandbridge, nestled between the Atlantic Ocean and the Back Bay is one of the most beautiful and serene pieces of land I have ever had the privilege of setting foot on.  Miles and miles of undeveloped land just waiting to be discovered.  Back Bay Wildlife Refuge eventually leads into False Cape State Park, which is a part of one of Virginia’s 12 State Parks.  False Cape goes all the way down to the border of Virginia and North Carolina, so you could technically run all the way to the next state.   It’s “only” 10 miles one way.

When I run through the Wildlife Refuge all I hear is the gravel under my feet and the voices of the friend(s) I’ve invited along.  No cars.  No jets.  No bikers yelling “On your left!”.  When I run through the refuge it’s always more for scenery than for training.  I want to stop and admire the turtles sunning on a log or a rad looking bird.  In case your wondering, yes there are snakes but I’ve only seen one.  Seriously, they are more scared of you than you are of them.

There are a lot of beautiful places in this world, some of them I’ve been lucky enough to see.  People travel so far to spend time in places that are half as beautiful as what is in our own backyard.  Running in Back Bay is always a special treat, as it is off the beaten path.  It’s not somewhere I run all the time, or even a lot, but when I do I always think “I should really run here more”.

The Back Bay Wildlife Refuge is open 7 days a week from April 1st-October 31st, where then it closes for bird migratory season.   The cost is $2 to enter or you can obtain a yearly pass for $15 and have unlimited access to nature’s paradise.  You can drive into the Wildlife Refuge and park at the Visitor’s Center, where there are restrooms.  From there, just hop on the trail or walk over to the beach and you’ll be on your way.  Make sure to lather up in sunscreen and bug spray before you venture out.  You’ll thank me later.

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