February 2007: Kiptopeke State Park


Cape Charles, Virignia

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 gentle waves.

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 15 nationwide. 

On the eastern shore of Virginia, Kiptopeke is three miles from the northern terminus of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, on Route 13. Turn west on Route 704; the park entrance is within a half mile.