Eastern Shore Virginia
If you are like most folks familiar with
the land on the eastern side of the Chesapeake Bay when you hear
the term "Eastern Shore" you think "Maryland."
But there is a little tail of land - about 40 miles long and
a few miles wide - hanging off the Delmarva (that's Delaware,
Maryland AND Virginia) Peninsula that belongs to the great Commonwealth
of Virginia. Not that Virginians rush to embrace this part of
their state, 20 miles across the Chesapeake Bay at its closest,
either. Look at familiar profiles of the state of Virginia and
see how many include the dismembered Eastern Shore.
The most famous part of the Eastern Shore
of Virginia is Chincoteague Island and its famous ponies romping
in the Atlantic Ocean surf. But this is a big washout for dog
owners - no dogs allowed at Chincoteauge (although you can get
the same experience a bit further up the coast at Assateague
in Maryland). Still, this is no reason for active dog owners
to plow hurriedly down Route 13 though the Eastern Shore Virginia.
Just across the remarkable Chesapeake
Bay Bridge Tunnel is the Eastern Shore of Virginia National Wildlife
Refuge. Pull in and take a look around - it's dog-friendly. There
are two short one-way trails, the Butterfly trail and the Wildlife
Trail, both about a half-mile long. Each is flat and open, exposed
to the ocean breezes. The Wildlife Trail travels through the
remnants of a World War II Air Force Station, including two observation
overlooks. You can also hike with your dog along the ocean marshes
on the uncrowded refuge roads.
About three miles up the road, on the
Chesapeake side of the peninsula is the delightful Kiptopeke
State Park. The site was purchased by the Virginia Ferry Corporation
for the northern terminus of the Virginia Beach to Eastern Shore
Ferry. In 1949, when the terminus was moved from Cape Charles,
the site was named Kiptopeke Beach in honor of the younger brother
of a king of the Accawmack Indians who had befriended early settlers
to the area. Kiptopeke means "Big Water." In 1950 the
terminus opened after the completion of a $2.75 million pier,
promoted as the world's largest and most modern ferry pier.
More than four miles of fun trails for your dog traverse this
bayside park. The Baywoods Trail slips through an uplands hardwood
forest on wide, old roads and connects with expansive, sandy
beaches via an extensive network of wooden boardwalks through
the dunes. The southern beach is perfect for a hike but observe
signs designating the special habitat area that is closed to
visitors. Bicycle trails are available along the park's entrance
road and the Raptor, Songbird, Chickadee and Mockingbird trails.
There is fantastic swimming for your dog on the sandy beaches
of the eastern Chesapeake Bay. Ships that have been placed offshore
as breakwaters give less adventurous dogs a chance to play in
Since 1963, Kiptopeke has been the site of bird population studies.
Sponsored by the Coastal Virginia Wildlife Observatory, formerly
known as KESTRSAL, and licensed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service, volunteers capture, examine, weigh, band and release
resident and migratory birds each year from mid-August through
November. In the raptor research area, hawks, kestrels, osprey
and other birds of prey are observed and banded from September
through November. Kiptopeke's hawk observatory is among the top
And for those who not only stop on the
Eastern Shore of Virginia but want to stay awhile, dogs are allowed
in the campground for a $3 fee.
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