Friday fun at First Landing State Park

Today’s adventure had us on the road to First Landing State Park to do some trail walking. As a former runner, I’m used to hitting the pavement and going the distance. Even though I spend the majority of my fitness time in a gym these days, I still very much enjoy getting out and doing hikes and/or walks. Depending on where we head there might be more climbing than walking, scaling or rocky terrain, and today’s journey had a little bit of everything.

We set out prepared to take the Cape Henry trail, which is a six mile trek. This is the longest trail but also the widest and most travelled. It’s fairly flat terrain and easy to walk along. We shared the road with other walkers, runners and even cyclists, and there was plenty of room for everyone. This particular trail even boasts “Healthtrek” fitness stops along the way. Since I was carrying a 40lb toddler already I didn’t try any, but I imagine during a solo walk/run it would be a nice addition.

The larger section of this trail is through the woods, which really doesn’t impress a three year old. It was peaceful and quiet, despite the moderate foot and bicycle traffic. Birds were plentiful, which only added to the calming nature of the walk, and we managed to spot some small wildlife in the brush, plus a skink or two. If you’re not in the mood for a longer walk or the trees are all you need, you can loop back around at the While Hill Lake trail and make your way back through more trees. We chose the longer route.

Near the 64th Street entrance to the park is where the trail turns and you’ll start upon different terrain. This particular area is quite sandy and uneven in spots, although the views are stunning. You’ll take in Lake Susan, a beautiful and steady lake first, and then continue on through some marsh and over bridges to catch glimpses of Broad Bay. There were less people travelling along this side of the trail, and the path was more narrow so we appreciated that.

Lake Susan, the first of many beautiful sights in the Southern part of the Cape Henry trail. A favorite spot of ours with benches lining the trail so anyone can sit and enjoy the quiet views.

Continuing to follow the water you’ll soon get through the marsh and swamp like smells to see gorgeous views of Broad Bay and beaches. We spotted a heron, some crabs and fish, and an egret, plus more squirrels and skinks along the way here. A welcome break from the trails comes when you near the end of the journey, at the parking lot. That might not sound enjoyable, but given the beaches that are near and accessible (an important factor if you’re three) it’s a welcome sight.

The mistake that I made was not accounting for getting back to the trail center. Cape Henry trail is not a complete loop, and once you hit the restrooms by the parking area, your only option is to turn around. Rather than make our way all the way down the same trail, I opted to change route and jump on the Osprey trail. This trail is not altoghether difficult, however it is sandy and somewhat steeper than the other, going uphill. It got a bit difficult, if only because at that point my toddler was sleeping on my back, so I had to lean forward slightly to compensate.

Despite the soreness setting in, we continued on and made our way up to Long Creek Trail where we hung a left and crept our way to Kingfisher Trail, which was our connection back to the Cape Henry trail. Somewhere near the Kingfisher Trail my toddler woke up again with a sense of rejuvinated spirit and talked the rest of our trek. Between her chatter and the beautiful views I was still seeing, I had just enough energy (I had long since run out of water and our snacks) to push through.

In the end we had a rather memorable, and mostly enjoyable, hike through First Landing State Park. If I were to do it again I would prepare myself a bit better for the return journey, which was simple oversight on my part. If you’re looking for an enjoyable, and easy to moderate hike, it’s definitely something to check out!

Happy weekend!

P.S. Hey parents! I’m carrying my toddler in a Kinderpack, which I have to say saved my back. Aside from a little extra heat the weight stayed evenly distributed and prevented back pain.


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