Virginia Birding and Wildlife Trail

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  • Seasons: All
  • Site Contact: (757) 301-7329
  • Site Access: See site description.
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Site CSY06: Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge


Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge contains 8,700 acres of beaches, dunes, woodland, farm fields, and marsh. The southern part of this refuge includes extensive marshes that visitors can see on the way to adjacent False Cape State Park and are only accessible by foot, bicycle, or tram. A boardwalk traverses a portion of the salt marsh, and in summer a combination of woodland and estuarine birds occur here. The refuge's management objectives have been developed and expanded to provide for a broad spectrum of wildlife, with emphasis on waterfowl, shorebirds, and threatened and endangered species such as loggerhead sea turtles, peregrine falcons, and bald eagles. The refuge is a hotbed of activity for birders with nearly 300 species of birds observed here. During the peak of fall migration, a wide variety of ducks and approximately 10,000 snow geese visit the Back Bay refuge. In winter, it is the only reliable site in Virginia for LeConte's sparrow. Spring migration brings songbirds and shorebirds that fill the wetlands, shrubs, and woodland areas. Mammals such as river otters, white-tailed deer, mink, and red fox can also reside in the refuge. Numerous reptiles and amphibians also occur at Back Bay, including cottonmouths, which are seen frequently. Refuge open daily, ½ before sunrise to ½ after sunset. Visitor Contact Station hours: open 8am-4pm weekdays and 9am-4pm weekends; closed Sundays November - March and on holidays, except Memorial Day, July 4, and Labor Day. Fee, April - October; Free, November 1 - March 31.


From the Virginia Marine Science Museum, turn right onto General Booth Boulevard and go about 4.1 miles. Turn south (left) on Princess Anne Road. Travel 0.8 miles to Sandbridge Road and go straight. Drive 5.3 miles to Sandpiper Road and turn south (right). Go 4.2 miles to the entrance at the end of this road. Fee: $5 April-October, Free other times. Physical Address: 4005 Sandpiper Road, Virginia Beach, VA 23456.

Loop Map