Special to the Cape Charles Mirror by Jane McKinley.
If you are like me, the warmer weather beckons for a bike ride, and there are lots of options for riding in and out of Cape Charles, depending on your inclination.
In addition to tootling on your bike around the lovely streets of Cape Charles (about 2 miles around the perimeter of town), there are several routes available to a rider looking for a bit more of a challenge. Leaving from Cape Charles, all routes take you up Stone Road to the light and across into Cheriton. From there you can ride to Cherrystone, Oyster, Eastville and the Wildlife Refuge on relatively safe roads.
Although traffic is pretty brisk on Stone Road, except for one short section, the shoulder is wide enough for a single bike to navigate easily. When approaching the light into Cheriton, since you will be going straight, it’s best to stay on the broken line between the two lanes. The lights are very accommodating going out, but you will want to pay closer attention on the return trip (those turning cars can be a bit of a surprise!).
“Ride as much or as little, or as long or as short as you feel. But ride.”
~ Eddy Merckx
The shortest route is to the boat ramp in Oyster which is about 12 miles round trip and a little over an hour depending on your speed. When you arrive, take a moment to read the signs that tell visitors about the barrier islands and enjoy watching the boaters coming and going from the water. And, of course, the view is lovely. To get there, once in Cheriton, turn right on Sunnyside Road and follow it to Crumb Hill Road where you turn left. This takes you to the boat ramp. You can also continue straight on Sunnyside for less than a mile into the little village of Oyster. In the fall the goldenrod and high-tide bush sport beautiful blooms alongside the road.
Another relatively short route is to the waterfront in Cherrystone. This route is about 11 miles round trip with the option to add another 4 miles to go to the campground. This is a quiet ride that offers an attractive cluster of homes at the end and a beautiful waterfront view. The other day when riding there, I saw people walking around in the shallow water who might have been clamming. There’s a small building there and a dock, but it’s private property. To get there, turn left on Cherrystone Road out of Cheriton, cross over Lankford Highway, and bear to the right to stay on Cherrystone Road. The highway intersection is not bike friendly, so expect to wait a little while until a car comes up to trigger the light or, if you are a bit of a risk taker or impatient (like me), go for it on the red light – just be careful!
If you continue straight after crossing the highway, you will be on Townfield Drive which leads down to the campground. Here you can ride around in the shade enjoying the camping scenery. There is the Little Neck Café at the camp where one might catch a bite to eat or, at least, a refresher on your water. You can also take a spin down to Cherrystone Aqua Farm where you can look across Kings Creek to the Cape Charles marina.
Once you have these rides under your belt, you may feel a bit more adventurous. With either of the longer rides, even though there is a destination, you can turn around at any point to shorten the route. This was a serious consideration for me the other day when we were riding head-first into what felt like hurricane force winds!
To get to the Eastville Courthouse, which is about a 23-mile round trip, turn out of Cheriton onto Sunnyside Road like you are going to Oyster. Before getting to Oyster, however, turn left on Route 600, Seaside Road, and turn left again on Route 631, Indiantown Road. This takes you across Langford Hwy and into Eastville. Before getting to the highway, you cross over railroad tracks and a small enclave of historic homes. Across the highway, Indiantown Road dead ends at Courthouse Road where you will turn left. Make an almost immediate right at the historic Eastville Inn which is now the home of The Kitchen Sync, a catering service which offers delicious take-home meals at the Cape Charles Farmers Market on Tuesdays, May – October. Behind the inn is a lovely garden maintained by the Eastern Shore of Virginia Master Gardeners and is a have-to-see destination. You can also fill your water bottles from the fountain in the Treasurer’s Office during business hours. The water is not bad.
If you are a serious rider, you can skip Eastville and continue up Seaside Road into Exmore. This is a 40+ mile round trip. But the best incentive I can think of is a stop at the Exmore Diner where you can load up on calories for the return trip. You can also take Star Transit for the return trip (see details below). If anyone reading this article has had the pleasure of this ride, please add a comment on your experience.
The final route to be discussed in this article is the 28-mile round trip route that ends at the Eastern Shore of Virginia Wildlife Refuge. As you enter Cheriton, turn right on Bayview (past the Convenience Center where you probably go regularly to deposit your recyclables). Follow this to Seaview where you will turn left. Ride down to Seaside Road (the Shockley farm stand is on your left) and turn right. This is a 6.5 mile stretch mostly in the sun, so make sure you have plenty of water, sunscreen and energy. Turn right on Cedar Grove Drive after which you will shortly see the 2.6-mile paved bike trail which leads left down to the Wildlife Refuge. This trail is currently under Phase II construction which will extend it another 2.4 miles north to Capeville Drive (just South of Stingray’s Restaurant).
This trail is part of the Eastern Shore Bicycling plan which outlines a biking and walking trail that connects the Wildlife Refuge, Sunset Beach Resort, Kiptopeke State Park, the towns of Cape Charles and Cheriton and their amenities and access to points north. According to this plan, it will be comprised of a combination of standalone trails and designated bicycle routes along roads. For more information, there are two documents available online, the 2014 Update which is the latest approved version of the plan and the Bike and Hike Trail, Phase III document dated January, 2018. The Phase III document focuses on the connection between Capeville and Cape Charles which will be an off-road trail that includes a non-motorized bridge across Route 13 (likely to be built north of Kiptopeake Elementary School). A public meeting will be scheduled soon to review the feasibility study and engineering report for Phase III. The date of this meeting will be announced on the Accomack & Northampton Planning District Commission Facebook page.
For those who want to venture a little farther out, an option is to ride one leg of a longer trip on your bike and take Star Transit on the return. All buses are equipped with bike racks that hold up to two bikes, and there are several routes that include Cape Charles. A one-way trip costs 50 cents. If this is an option that you would like to consider, you can view route maps on their website that give you stops and schedules.
A group of Cape Charles bikers is currently forming. Our goal will be to ride at least once a week, leaving from Rayfields Pharmacy. Once we get enough riders, a regular ride schedule will be established. We may also take an occasional ride from outside of Cape Charles just to mix it up. If you are interested in joining this group, please let us know via a comment on this article, and one of us will get in touch with you.
Whatever your preference, Cape Charles offers lots of options for both the casual and serious bike rider. So, just get out there and enjoy the wind on your face and the pedals underfoot.