Walk through spring on the Peninsula

Take a hike — literally!

There's no need to head for the hills or drive for hours to find agreeable walking trails on the Peninsula. The whole region is dotted with green space and paved areas where walkers can escape for an hour or two while getting in their recommended 10,000 paces daily.

Some trails capitalize on the area's natural setting while others simply provide a respite within the cityscape. The area's long history also provides an interesting backdrop to several of these suggested walks.


320 Butler Farm Road, Hampton.

Directions: Take Magruder Boulevard north, left on Butler Farm Road after Hampton Roads Center Parkway, take first right before The Hamptons Golf Course entrance. Keep right and park in the lot. Entrance to the trail is on the right.

Length: 3-mile loop with markers every mile

Hours: Sunrise to sunset daily

Surface: Flat, asphalt path; in a few areas tree roots have caused ripples in the asphalt but it's suitable for buggies and wheelchairs

Environment: Shaded, leafy path follows the contours of the golf course through deciduous woods; there are a couple of ponds too. Benches at the mile markers offer opportunities for rest. Developed by a bird enthusiast, the trail has display boards depicting birds that may be seen along the way, including wrens, thrushes, bluebirds, black-capped chickadees and kestrels. Expect company from a few walkers, an occasional dog on a leash, and a jogger or two.

Cautions: Watch for golfers hitting balls. Also, if you stray from the trail, there's a poison ivy and tick alert.



Directions: Take LaSalle Avenue until it dead-ends into Chesapeake Avenue

Length: About 3 miles of shoreline

Hours: Unrestricted

Surface: City sidewalks with curb cuts

Environment: Residential area provides a spectacular view of the open waters of Hampton Roads as well as a look at the facades of some fine homes. Starting at the LaSalle end of the avenue, after one block, there's a sidewalk that continues all the way to the end of the avenue at 16th Street in Newport News. The sidewalk is across the street from the water. The water side divides between private, unfenced property along the grassy shorefront and public areas with Civil War Trails markers that detail the First Battle of the Ironclads.

The length of the avenue is marked by splendid trees, including magnolias and live oaks, and a dramatic water view with a breeze that sweeps up the smell of the sea with it.

Cautions: Respect the private property signs.



Directions: Take Route 17 and follow the signs into town.

Length: Just under a mile along the brick pathway, but add another half mile if taking paths between the Victory Center and Visitor Center on the bluffs above the York River.

Hours: Parking times vary at the different lots; plan on sunrise to sunset.

Surface: A flat, level brick path, but if extending the walk with uphill climbs on either end, the surface changes to gravel and grass to the Yorktown Battlefield Visitor Center and a composite concrete path to the Yorktown Victory Center.

Environment: An entertaining mix of town, nature, beach and history. Depending on your interests/mobility, start at the parking lot across from the stores at Riverwalk Landing and pick up a map of trolley stops there, or start at the Victory Center and make your way down the concrete path, picking up the brick walkway on Water Street at the bottom. On the left, the York River slaps up against a sandy beach that lines the path for almost a mile.

There are plenty of snacking opportunities and benches or seats to rest every few yards along the way. At Read Street, there's a small parking lot; walkers can cut through the lot and hike up a moderately steep unpaved path that emerges across from the historic Nelson House on Main Street.

Alternatively, on Water Street, keep going past the fishing pier into the picnic area and follow the "Tobacco Road" cut-through up to the Yorktown Battlefield Visitor Center, a 5- to 10-minute walk at a moderate pace uphill on gravel and grass. At the top, cut across the parking lot to catch a trolley with a driver/guide to return to your starting point or to stop off at any of the other eight trolley stops.

Cautions: Yorktown's streets are narrow so be cautious if choosing to explore the ones without sidewalks.


Newport News

Directions: Follow J.Clyde Morris Boulevard until it becomes Avenue of the Arts, then take a left on Museum Drive. Park in the lot on the right to start at the North Entrance.

Length: 5-mile loop with markers every mile; take Meadow Path shortcut to make it 4 miles

Hours: Parking lot closes at 8:30 p.m.

Surface: Varied, including oyster shells, wooden slats, dirt and gravel; the path undulates

Environment: The 5-mile Noland Trail wraps around and over the 167-acre Lake Maury through 550 acres of deciduous woods. An ever-changing landscape maintains constant interest for the walker. The path changes surfaces and levels constantly to create a good workout.

Long bridges across the water provide up-close views of sunning turtles, geese making their splashy landings, and good-sized fish in the shallow waters. The scent of different plants wafts on the air and tall trees provide shade and quiet.

Overlooks with benches punctuate the trail and offer prime picnic spots.

Cautions: Watch out for joggers


Directions: At the juncture of Jamestown and Richmond roads; several parking areas in the vicinity, some free with time restrictions

Length: The street runs approximately 1 mile in a straight shot from the Wren Building on the campus of The College of William and Mary to the restored Colonial Capitol. Multiple side-street excursions are possible, including a diversion around the powder magazine, or around the green in front of the Governor's Palace. Or, extend your exploration to the pedestrian-friendly William and Mary campus.

Hours: Some segments of Duke of Gloucester may be restricted to CW ticket-holders during scheduled performances.

Surface: Flat, wide street with uneven brick sidewalk

Environment: The escape offered here is into history, courtesy of The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation's recreation of the 18th century Colonial capital. It's an ideal setting for those wishing to walk briskly for exercise as well as for those who simply want to stroll from one historical attraction to the next.

The people-watching is entertaining, as well as the staged opportunities to listen in to the discourse between costumed characters of the period. There are benches along the way as well as restaurants, stores and a marketplace, all open to non-ticket holders.

Cautions: Watch out for horse-drawn carriages and the leavings from carriage horses

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