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This loop trail gives visitors a view of the beach, dunes, and a touch of the bay.

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11' 3 m


4' 1 m


9' 3 m


10' 3 m



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Features Birding · Views · Wildlife

Swimming and sunbathing is not permitted on the refuge beach. Fishing, hiking, biking, shell collecting, wildlife observation and photography are encouraged.


The Seaside Trail to Dune Trail Loop is an excellent hike to see a little of the ocean and a little of the freshwater Back Bay. On your hike down the Seaside Trail you may see turtles and birds as you travel next to a freshwater pond and shrubby trees. Once you reach the ocean you can collect shells, look for dolphins and enjoy the peacefulness of a secluded beach on your trek to the Dune Trail.

Halfway through the dunes on this trail, you'll find a viewing platform from which you can see the ocean and the Back Bay. Be sure to stop for a look! On your return back north to the parking lot, you'll once again pass by freshwater ponds, with an opportunity to view turtles, snakes, great blue herons, and other birds.

Need to Know

This trail is very sunny during summer days with little to no shade. Plan accordingly for this hike.


The Seaside Trail begins just next to the visitor center and parking areas. A wooden boardwalk takes hikers through the sand dunes and out onto the beach. To continue to the loop trail, turn right and hike south along the beach. Enjoy the peaceful atmosphere while looking for dolphins, pelicans and other wildlife. You may see fishermen along the way as well.

Approximately a third of a mile from the Seaside Trail, follow the Dune Trail sign and hike over the first dune to access the trail. Continue on the boardwalk and enjoy the view from the platform halfway through the dunes. Once you exit the Dune Trail boardwalk, take a right and continue north to the visitor center and parking lot on the gravel path.

Flora & Fauna

A variety of wildlife can be seen throughout the year. Birds that can be seen on this trail in the summer include brown pelicans, sanderlings, and gulls. Dolphins may also be seen swimming in the ocean.

Visitors also experience the fragile dune ecosystem. Flora that can be seen on this hike include wax myrtles, Virginia meadow beauty, trumpet vines, Virginia creepers, and sea oats.

History & Background

Fun Fact: The dunes you see are man-made structures. Around the time of the establishment of the wildlife refuge the Civilian Conservation Corps (part of Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal) planted dune grasses and constructed dune fencing to build up dunes in this area. Almost a century later, the dunes have completely cut off ocean washover to Back Bay and are now an ecosystem in their own right.


Shared By:

Erica Ryder

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  4.3 from 3 votes
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in Virginia


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Start of Dune Trail
Aug 11, 2018 near Virgini…, VA
View of the ocean from the platform at the end of the boardwalk trail.
May 29, 2022 near Virgini…, VA
Dune Trail Entrance
Aug 9, 2018 near Virgini…, VA
East Dike trail starting on the left hand side of the fork
Aug 9, 2018 near Virgini…, VA
Start of West Dike Trail at the right hand side of the fork
Aug 9, 2018 near Virgini…, VA
Seaside Trail
Aug 9, 2018 near Virgini…, VA



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Nov 1, 2021
Karen Lyn
I live close to Back Bay. I have been on this trail many times. The sunsets are amazing here and there's always wildlife to see.

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