You must be signed in to save park lists.
Your Park Lists
add New List
Add Photo
You must be signed in to add photos.
state route ranger badge

Virginia State Parks

responsive menu icon
USA Parks
Tidewater Region
False Cape State Park
Cardinal ©
Small Boy Fishing ©
Gone fishin.
Availability Search
4001 Sandpiper Road
Virginia Beach, Virginia   23456

Phone: 757-426-7128
Toll Free: 800-933-7275
Reservations: 757-426-7128
Email: park email button icon
No vehicular access. Located in southern Virginia Beach, False Cape State Park is a mile-wide barrier spit between Back Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. Access is through the Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge and is limited to hiking, bicycling or boating. The park features primitive camping and an extensive environmental education program in one of the last undisturbed coastal environments on the East Coast.

In the 1800s, False Cape gained a reputation as a ship?s graveyard. The area got its name because its land mass resembled Cape Henry, luring boats into shallow waters. One of the area?s first communities, Wash Woods, was developed by survivors of such a shipwreck. The village?s church and other structures were built using cypress wood that washed ashore from a wreck.

Vehicular access to False Cape State Park is prohibited because the park is land-locked on the southern end of the Back Bay Wildlife Refuge. Those wishing to visit the park for the day must either bike or hike through the refuge (via beach or interior trails, and the interior trail is closed from November 1 through March 31), or boat or canoe in down Back Bay. You can also take the Terra Gator, a specially designed vehicle that minimizes impact to this special environment, during this period.

To get a taste of the park, the Back Bay Restoration Foundation operates a tram that leaves from Little Island City Park, drives through the wildlife refuge and lets visitors explore the park for an hour in the Barbour Hill contact station area. The tram provides a round trip ride and is not available for overnight guests. Overnight guests must either hike or bike through the refuge, or canoe or boat in. Both day use and overnight visitors are advised to read all warnings regarding visiting the park to learn what is expected and about preparation. All visitors must follow refuge regulations while on refuge property.
History of the Area
In the 1800s, False Cape gained a reputation as a shipping graveyard. The area got its name because its land mass resembled Cape Henry, luring boats into shallow waters. One of the area's first communities, Wash Woods, was developed by survivors of such a shipwreck. The village's church and other structures were built using cypress wood that washed ashore from the wreck. From the turn of the century until the 1960s, False Cape was a haven for a number of prestigious hunt clubs, which took advantage of the area's abundant waterfowl. The park's Wash Woods Environmental Education Center is a converted hunt clubhouse. A 1966 study of Virginia's outdoor recreation resources recommended that a substantial ocean beachfront be made available for public use on the Atlantic Ocean south of Virginia Beach. The development of the park began with the purchase of approximately 4,300 acres of land.
 Hiking Trailyes
BoatingLaunch Rampsyes
False Cape State Park Camping - Camping is permitted year-round, but reservations are required. Campsites are in four distinct areas of the park, and those areas are separated by significant distances. The camping areas are Barbour Hill Bay, Barbour Hill Ocean, False Cape Landing Bay and False Cape Landing Ocean. For camping information, contact the State Parks Reservation Center at 1-800-933-7275; in Richmond dial 225-3867.

The park accommodates primitive camping, tents only and offers 12 sites. Drinking water is available in three locations, all in the Barbour Hill section - near the contact station and near the two camping areas there. False Cape Landing campers need to bring empty containers to transport water from the water source. Water not suitable for drinking is available in each camping area. Carry everything in and everything out. There are several pit (i.e., non-flushing) toilets. Open fires are not permitted; camp stoves may be used for cooking.

No vehicular access to this park. Passage through Back Bay Wildlife Refuge allowed during daylight hours only.

Distances to False Cape campsites from Little Island City Park: Little Island City Park to Barbour Hill contact station, 6.2 miles; Little Island City Park to Barbour Hill Bay or ocean sites, 6.9 miles; Little Island City Park to False Cape Landing bay sites, 8.7 miles; Little Island City Park to False Cape ocean sites, 8.95 miles

False Cape Reservations: All campers must receive their confirmation letter and information packet before camping here. If there is not enough time for the receipt of the packet by mail, campers must arrange to have the information faxed to them. Check with local companies that accept incoming faxes for the public (i.e., Kinkos, some hotels/motels, etc.), if necessary. No exceptions. All overnight guests must bring two copies of their confirmation letter. One must be placed on the dashboard of their vehicle; the other clipped to the site marker.
1. False Cape State Park offers oceanfront swimming on unguarded beaches.
2. Visitors can swim in the Atlantic Ocean at their own risk due to strong currents and riptides.
3. Swimming is not recommended during rough sea conditions for safety reasons.
4. The park does not provide lifeguards, so swimmers should be experienced or supervised by an adult if necessary.
5. Kayaking through Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge provides a unique water experience but isn't considered traditional swimming option.

Enjoy fishing in the Atlantic Ocean or Back Bay, with species like flounder, red drum and speckled trout. Freshwater ponds offer largemouth bass and catfish. Crabbing is also popular along the bay shoreline.

False Cape State Park is located near Chesapeake, Moyock and Virginia Beach

Hiking, bicycle trails, self-guided trails. Five trails, including the Barbour Hill self-guided interpretive trail, total 7.5 miles. They are available for hiking, biking and exploration. The park?s location on a barrier spit allows visitors to observe beaches, dunes, maritime forests of oak and pine, wooded swamps, marshes and the bay all in one visit.
Birding enthusiasts can spot over 300 species including the American Oystercatcher, Black Skimmer and Brown Pelican. The park is a stop on the Atlantic Flyway for migratory birds. Birdwatchers may also see Peregrine Falcons in fall or Bald Eagles during winter months. Other common sightings include songbirds, waterfowl and shorebirds such as Terns and Plovers.

Visitor Comments, Memories and Reviews
January 16 Best Park Around!! by Scott & Christine Brown
park review stars; one to five We come from Snow Hill, Maryland to ride our bikes. We love everything about this park. It is wonderful!!
June 8 History, living and natural by Old Geezer south of Pungo
park review stars; one to five Beautiful. Live Oaks by themselves are worth the journey. Visit, and then appreciate what you have back home.
write a review
Share On

Area Campgrounds
North Bay Shore Campground
3257 Colechester Road
Virginia Beach, VA
North Landing Beach Riverfront Campg
161 Princess Anne Road
Virginia Beach, VA
Outdoor Resorts Virginia Beach
3665 Sandpiper Road
Virginia Beach, VA
Northwest River Park
1733 Indian Creek Road
Chesapeake, VA
Area Cabins and Lodges
Outdoor Resorts RV Resorts
3665 Sandpiper Rd
Virginia Beach, VA
(757) 721-2020
Nearby Hotels

From Interstate 64, exit on to Indian River Road East. Go 13 miles, then turn left onto Newbridge Road, then right onto Sandbridge Road. Next, turn right onto Sandpiper Road to Little Island City Park. Parking fees required Memorial Day to Labor Day. Day use only parking also is available at Back Bay Wildlife Refuge.

state route ranger badge

Virginia State Parks