Chesapeake Parks and Trails
Chesapeake’s temperate weather and easy access to everything from city parks to untouched forests and wetlands makes it the perfect place for those who love outdoor activities. Whether you’re looking to go running or just let the kids run around, Chesapeake offers urban trails and recreational areas for everyone, while the pristine wilderness in the surrounding region offers opportunities for hiking, running, cycling, kayaking, and every other form of outdoor adventure.
The Broad Sweep of History
One of Chesapeake’s most compelling features is its prominent place in American history, as Battlefield Park demonstrates. Commemorating the Revolutionary War’s Battle of Great Bridge, Battlefield Park features a replica of the park’s historic 1775 causeway and an Interpretive Historic Pathway that allows visitors to follow in the footsteps of patriots. The waterfront park is located along the Intracoastal Waterway, and docents are available to give tours of the park if you arrange in advance.
The Wild Sounds of Nature
Before humans set foot in the Chesapeake region, the area now known as the Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge was teeming with life. Even today, this massive protected area of more than 112,000 acres is home to a dizzying array of animals. More than 200 species of birds, nearly 100 species of butterfly, and rare native mammals including flying squirrels, mink, red foxes, and black bears, have all been known to inhabit the swamp. The refuge features more than a dozen boardwalk, dirt road, and forest trails, and six different entrance points for visitors.
Those looking to enjoy the refuge from its many waterways and the 3,100-acre Lake Drummond, can pier fish using the Washington Ditch Entrance to the park or launch boats into the Feeder Ditch and reach the lake after a short journey. Those looking to propel themselves through the park can rent kayaks or canoes and hire a guide from Adventure Kayak Tours to visit the refuge’s freshwater marshes, cypress swamps, and barrier islands.
And that’s not the only way to appreciate the park! Old U.S. Route 17 has been repurposed as the Dismal Swamp Canal Trail, which runs parallels to the wildlife refuge and welcomes to its 8.3-mile trail cyclists, runners, joggers, walkers, and horse owners who want to brush up against nature.
The Happy Howls of Hounds
For those bringing their furry best friends to Chesapeake, the city offers several different dog parks to explore. The Chesapeake City Park, Western Branch Park, Deep Creek Park, and Elizabeth River Park all have fenced-in, off-leash areas featuring canine-friendly water fountains, waste bag dispensers, and covered trash bins. With open and shaded areas, as well as benches for owners, both dogs and handlers have an opportunity to socialize, exercise, and relax.
The Joyful Shouts of Children
Chesapeake is the perfect place for families, and its parks and trails offer kids the chance to be kids. The ultimate in childhood adventure is Fun Forest in Chesapeake City Park, containing 3 acres of outdoor activities including a shaky bridge, an underground telephone tunnel, a dolphin slide, and swings, planes, and trucks for children to conquer. Don’t miss the Fossil Dig, a giant sand box containing buried dinosaur fossils!
At Deep Creek Park, an ADA-accessible playscape ensures that children of all abilities can explore and play safely. Destination Playground was designed to be inclusive of children with special needs, and the unique features and layout facilitate fun and interaction with no child left out of play time. Complete with outdoor musical instruments, interactive tactile and sensory elements, a multiperson oval swing, swings designed for parents and children to swing together while facing each other, a wheelchair-friendly cork surface, and much more, the playground is the ultimate jungle gym for any kid.
These are just a few of the many park to discover in Chesapeake. Browse the listings below to find the park that’s just right for you.