CCW Weekend: Biking and Hiking Chincoteague Island, Virginia

Featured, Outdoors — July 1, 2014 at 9:15 pm by

If you’re looking for a nice weekend getaway, or you’re just looking for a beautiful place to hit some trails with bike and/or foot, Chincoteague Island may be for you.  The sleepy island on Virginia’s Eastern Shore is famous for its pony swim and auction, but there is a lot more to this ocean side gem than just horses.  (The pony swim and auction raises money for the local Fire Department while keeping the pony population at a safe level.)  I hadn’t been to Chincoteague since I was youngster, so I was looking forward to checking it out.

Chincoteague is about 50 miles south of Ocean City, Maryland. This means it’s a nice weekend, or week, vacation spot if you’re driving from Central Maryland or further west.  If you’re coming from the Eastern Shore, it can also be a great day trip.  The day trip is what me and the wizza did since we were driving from Ocean City.

It’s an easy drive down 113 and 13 from O.C.  As soon as you turn onto route 175, the road that leads into Chincoteague, you’ll notice the large NASA presence.  That’s because Wallops Island, a NASA launch site, is located just west of Chincoteague.  NASA launches several rockets a year from Wallops Island and they announce most of them. (Some are secret launch times with secret rockets, babes.) It’s kind of strange, but also very cool, to drive past the NASA facilities on your way to a vacation destination.

After you’ve debated about space junk and government conspiracies, its past Wallop Island and on to Chincoteague Island.  The network of low bridges over the tidal marshes and waterways on the way to Chincoteague is mildly reminiscent of the much larger bridge network that works its way through the Florida Keys.  Whether these bridges and the scenery remind you of the Keys or not, it’s definitely a cool drive once you get onto 175.

 

Once you get on the island there are two main roads.  One runs on the western portion of the island along the Chincoteague Bay and the other one runs perpendicular to that and goes towards the southern portion of Assateague Island and the beach.  There are restaurants, shops, bike rental and kayak rental places along both roads, but more on that later.

We were on Chincoteague to bike, hike, enjoy the beach, and eat.  The wizza and I had brought our bikes so we decided to bike the trails first.  We entered the Chincoteague National Park (It’s $8 per vehicle to enter), drove a bit, and parked in the first small parking lot we saw.  There are over 15 miles of trails in the park.  Some of them are paved or crush and run, these are the bike and hike trails.  There are also several dirt trails.  These are hike only.

We didn’t have a map, or really know exactly where in the hell we were, so we started peddling.  The trails aren’t difficult, but they are big enough for fast riding in most parts, if you are so inclined.  Some are named and all are connected.  The scenery is really nice along the way with plenty of water views, trails through wooded areas, and plenty of wildlife to view. Chincoteague National Park was initially designated as a park to help protect migratory birds and their migratory routes.  There are plenty of birds around to attest to this.  (Unfortunately, there are plenty of annoying-ass bugs as well.  The horse flies are particularly nasty.  Bring bug repellant.) We also saw turtles and some horses in the distance.

After tooling around for a minute, we found the Wildlife loop, which gave us some of the above views and by chance led us to the beach, where we chilled for a while.  I was in my hybrid shorts so a dip in the Atlantic was no problem.

The beach, which is actually on Assateague Island, is big and wide and slopes gradually into the surf, which is plus.  (Sometimes in O.C., I feel like I’m swimming in a damn washing machine due to the drastic beach drop off.)  If you bike the Wildlife Loop to this portion of the beach you will find it very sparsely populated.  We had a huge portion of the beach to ourselves, which is pretty awesome when compared to the crowded main beach access on this same island or the packed beaches of Ocean City and Delaware.

After my hybrids dried off we biked back to the truck and took a very short hike to the Assateague Lighthouse.  This bad boy was built, after the Civil War delayed construction, in 1867.  It still operates today and its light can be seen 19 miles out to sea.

CI lighthouse

The tower is over 150 feet tall and for five bucks you can go to the top and enjoy the view.  My fat ass was out of breath at the top but the views are awesome.  Plus, there’s a Park Guide at the top to feed you knowledge on the island and its history.  This pics doesn’t do the view justice, trust me…

 

After hiking a few more trails it was time for lunch.  We drove back to Main Street which is the main road that runs along the west “coast” portion of the island. We had heard some positive rumblings about a place called Bill’s Prime Seafood and Steaks.  We found it, sat, and quickly ordered a prime rib sandwich and a grouper sandwich.  The food was awesome.  The prime rib was really tender and the portion was extremely generous for the price.  The wizza really enjoyed her grouper and I’ll take her word for it since I don’t eat fish.  The potato chips were made and the fries were of the shoestring variety and cut.  Both were great, babes. To make things even better, the service was fantastic and friendly.  Lunch was a definite home run.

I’m looking forward to going back and trying the crabcake and the soft shell crab sandwich.  Both looked very good.

We capped the afternoon off with an ice cream from Island Creamery.  They make their own and they make their own waffle cones in-house.  Forget it, babes.  I had some sort of Snicker’s ice cream and it was freakin’ delicious.

I’m definitely going back to Chincoteague.  There are plenty of small hotels and motels that looked quite accommodating and the locals that we met were extremely welcoming and friendly.  There are plenty of outdoor activities to get into and the beach is beautiful and awesome. Granted, Chincoteague Island is a quieter resort area than Ocean City or the Delaware Beaches, but that’s probably what your overworked and cluttered mind needs.  Go check it out.

It’s a one traffic light kinda town, babes…..

 

The wizza tearing up the trails.  High level of difficulty here, babes…..

 

 

 

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