Special to the Mirror by Jane McKinley. Jane purchased a home at 526 Tazewell Ave last year and spent most of 2016 into 2017 renovating the home, and writing about Cape Charles.
Having met only one or two other people on my numerous visits, I believe that the Cape Charles Natural Area Preserve is a well-kept secret. Owned and managed by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, the natural preserve is located at the far end of Bayshore Road, past Wako Chemical. Although not so easy to find, if one remains firm in their conviction, the reward will be worth the journey.
Cape Charles Natural Preserve is a 29-acre site that offers a well-maintained boardwalk that leads through the woods and opens to two Chesapeake Bay overlooks. The walkway is perfect for an easy, shaded stroll on a hot summer day. At approximately one mile long with no elevation, it would be a good choice for young children or anyone who isn’t up for a robust physical challenge. Also, to really appreciate the sounds of nature, plan your walk on a non-workday since the noises from Bayshore Concrete interfere with the solitude.
The boardwalk takes visitors through several natural communities, including a globally-rare Maritime Dune Woodland. There is no beach access due to the sensitivity of the habitat which includes the federally threatened northeastern beach tiger beetle (Cicindela dorsalis dorsalis). I understand that this little critter has had quite an impact on humans’ use of the area’s beachfront.
It would also be very exciting to visit during fall migration when the forest abounds with migratory songbirds and raptors resting and feeding before continuing their journey across the Chesapeake Bay. One will need a good pair of binoculars before that time! And, of course, a good bird reference book.