Hughlett Point Natural Area Preserve (Kilmarnock, Va)

IMG_9598It’s week three of an NC cold wave and I’m longing for our hot summer hike in Kilmarnock, Va. When traveling last summer we started looking for hiking suggestions with the All Trails app. Its helpful app lets you filter and search by distance, rating, suitability for kids, difficulty and more. With it being a hot July day and having small children we needed a shortish hike with easy water access. After a quick search we found Hughlett Point Natural Area Preserve, which had a 2 mile trail and access to the Chesapeake Bay.

Location

The Hughlett Point Natural Area Preserve is 200 acres of undeveloped land located on a peninsula on the Chesapeake Bay, about 15 minutes northeast of Kilmarnock off Route 605. It has a large sandy shoreline, marshy wetlands, forested areas, and is home to the federally threatened northeastern beach tiger beetle. Though we didn’t see any tiger beetles, we saw several shore birds, crabs, and bugs on our hike.

The Hike

IMG_9591After parking at the trailhead we walked along the wooden walkway through the forest. We soon saw a sign post, and turned left to follow the North Loop. Shortly after starting along the North Loop we arrived on the Chesapeake Bay’s beautiful sandy shoreline. The sudden change from forest to deserted beach was breathtaking. The girls immediately waded into the water, while the adults took in the beautiful views. Being a flat undeveloped area, every direction we looked gave different views of a sandy shoreline, endless bay water, or grassy wetlands. It almost felt like we were on a deserted island.

Despite the lack of signage, we headed south hoping the shoreline kept us on the right path. Because we hiked next to the water, the full sun beat down on us, making the little ones quickly tire. My sister and I, each, soon started carrying a little one on our backs. After walking about a half mile in the sand, we cheered as the trail met back up with the mainland.

IMG_9604We caught our breath at an observation deck where the swimming crabs distracted the little’s tears. This trail features a few observation decks that overlook the flat and vast wetland areas. After watching the crabs swim through the water we continued walking on the dirt trail back to the parking lot. Unfortunately, we ran into some dense bug families through the forested walk back. Since the girls regained their breath while watching the crabs, they miraculously sprinted through the dense bug fog, and made it back to the car in record time.

For this hike, I felt we arrived pretty unprepared. We didn’t anticipate half the hike being in full sun and sand, and we didn’t bring the necessary bug spray. The Chesapeake Bay’s beautiful views and undeveloped areas made up for our lack of planning. We treated ourselves to a quick stop at the Dog & Oyster Winery on our way back to Grey’s Point Camp. The girls munched on snacks, tried soft-shelled crabs and colored oyster shells while the adults tasted wines and grilled oysters – heavenly!

Thumbs up: breathtaking views, undeveloped land, crab spotting, bird watching

Thumbs down: signage, lots of bugs

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