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False Cape State Park, VA
mini location map2019-10-05
11 by photographer avatarDaytripper
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False Cape State Park, VA 
False Cape State Park, VA
Hiking avatar Oct 05 2019
Hiking20.40 Miles 100 AEG
Hiking20.40 Miles   7 Hrs   30 Mns   2.88 mph
100 ft AEG      25 Mns Break10 LBS Pack
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1st trip
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In order to complete my travel along the entire Southeast Va coastline from Cape Henry to the NC border it required travel through False Cape State Park. This is located on the one mile wide Currituck Banks Peninsula established as a state park in 1966. Today I was hoping to locate the granite monument placed in 1887 at the site of the 1728 survey of the Va. and NC border. Before you start exploring this park you must take an initial trip from the visitor center in the Back Bay Wildlife Refuge ,where you left your car , to the visitor center in False Cape State Park ,this is 4 miles on a hard packed gravel road which will be the East or West Dike Trail plus the Marsh Ridge Trail or travel along the beach.The False Cape visitor center has maps and educational materials, a small gift shop, snacks ,picnic tables , restrooms,water, a decorative buoy and a pump for bike tires. This park has 40 campsites ,reservation required, in 4 small groupings of 10 sites ,one group on the beach.A trail Sandy Ridge trail continues south from here for 6.2 miles. The most scenic hiking section along this trail is shortly after leaving the visitor center along Spratt's Cove , in the bay visible from here is Cedar Island where one of the go to hunt clubs for the rich and famous was located in the late 1800’s. Some duck blinds are also visible some recently put up still lacking their camoflouge. Most of the hike is through pine and oak forest but just to remind you of where you were the east wind carried the constant sound of the ocean the entire day. Noticed in one of the dark pools along this lonely path a water moccasin swimming away. This is a stretch of the coast included in the term Graveyard of the Atlantic. Ships would mistakenly believe they were turning into the Chesapeake Bay at Cape Henry and end up foundering in the shallows here, sometimes “aided” by land pirates who would use horses with lanterns on the shoreline to mimic bobbing lights of a ship at sea to entice the ships onward toward presumed open water until too late. Also German submarine targets and the subs themselves contributed to the ship graveyard. Along this hike a small detour takes you across remnants of the Wash Woods community ,at its peak about 300 people lived here , abandoned after a 1933 hurricane, perhaps named after the schooner John Woods that ran aground in 1895 with a load of cypress wood which they built their Methodist church from. It is believed the area was first settled by shipwrecked individuals in the late 17th century using salvaged materials from their own wreck to build their shelters. The remnant church steeple is housed in a protective shed now , there were about 20 scattered headstones that instead of flowery remembrances were adorned with seashells. After leaving from here the 2.5 miles to the NC border was more challenging as the soft sand was more taxing to walk through , saw some scattered horse manure so the fence at the border must not be keeping all the wild horses in NC. Saw no one else past the last camping site area so only had the ocean sound to entertain. At the end of the Sandy Ridge Trail I continued south on a unsigned path paralleling the Ocean Pearl path until reaching the state line a 7 foot fence, keeping the peace between Carolina and Va. ,followed along a clearing by the fence west until I came upon the old monument, using a gate there crossed briefly into NC, mission accomplished took a picture and left without any tar on my heels. Tried a couple of off trail viewpoints on the way back but some were too overgrown to make it to the waters edge, didn’t want to add extra miles to view the 1894 shipwreck Clythia still there with its marble cargo unsalvaged. Occurred to me this might be a great October full moon camp and hike with its abandoned town site, cemetery, graveyard of the Atlantic, pirates ,poisonous snakes ,riderless horses :o
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