Virginia Beach is an independent coastal city found in southwestern Virginia. A hugely popular tourist destination thanks to its iconic 5-mile long beach, this city is also a big attraction to runners.
So much so, the city regularly runs fun and challenging races including the Virginia Marathon and the 5k Beer Run.
Alongside the beach, runners are treated to a 2.7-mile boardwalk. As if that wasn’t enough, there’s even First State Park offering excellent running conditions and some shade from the hot summer’s heat.
With so many good options on offer, choosing the best running trail can be tricky. Today to help you out, we’ve put together a list of the very best running trails you’ll find in Virginia Beach.
We’ll detail each trail and tell you exactly what you can expect.
If you’re a tourist looking for a great way to see the city, or a local looking for somewhere new to exercise, be sure to check our list out!
Virginia Beach Running Trail
We can’t start our list without discussing arguably the best and most popular running location in Virginia Beach, after all, the city itself is named after this iconic beach.
Virginia Beach is 5 miles long, offering runners the opportunity to run as little or as much as they want. Thanks to how wide the beach is, even on the busiest of days running at any intensity is easily done.
The long, white sand beach gives runners the opportunity to run along the coastline taking in views out to sea and of the city skyline.
In terms of conditions, the whole 5 miles has firm, well-packed sand, making the beach surprisingly hard underfoot.
This is a great advantage of running here because you have less chance of twisting your ankle or falling over which could quite easily happen on beaches where the sand is thicker and softer.
Virginia Beach Boardwalk Trail
Found right next to Virginia Beach’s white sand beach is the popular Virginia Beach Boardwalk. Running for 2.7 miles, this trail can start at either 40th St. in the north or 2nd St. & Atlantic Ave. in the south.
This trail is perfect for those of you who seek impressive views of the beach and city as you run but also want a more reliable, solid path.
Wide and very festive, to make life a lot easier for everyone, this trail is split into separate paths for cyclists and pedestrians.
Along this route, you can also expect to see the famous Neptune Park and Statue, the amusement park, and some of the best homes in the city.
Although this trail can get busy during the day, the northern end of the boardwalk tends to be a little quieter. It is to the northern part of this trail you’ll also find other options to extend your run.
First Landing State Park
Situated at Cape Henry towards the northern end of Virginia Beach, First Landing State Park is a famous 2,888-acre park with a wide range of awesome running trails.
With over 19 different running trails to choose from, all of which vary in length, you can quite easily incorporate a beach run and park run in one outing.
Within the park, you’ll find relatively flat, easy trails with the occasional incline or decline.
Perfect during hotter days because the thick forest provides plenty of shade, along your run you can expect to see swamps, marshes, a maritime forest, wetlands, the bay shoreline, and an abundance of dunes.
Ideal for locals wanting to escape the busy beach and tourists wanting to explore what Virginia Beach has to offer, you can access the First Landing State Park trails off 64th St. to the south of the park.
Cape Henry Trail
The Cape Henry Trail is a 6-mile long mostly gravel trail that combines the beach area of Virginia Beach and parts of First Landing State Park wonderfully well.
Used by hikers, cyclists, and runners, this flat, easy-to-run on trail is mainly wooden and covered, giving you enough shade to escape the glaring midday sun.
The beauty of this trail, aside from its scenery, is how it suits runners of all abilities. This path gives runners access to an easy 1.5-mile run, a moderate 3.5-mile trail, or a tougher 6-miles.
The main trail is also nice and flat, while other routes towards Shore Drive are hillier making them a good choice for more experienced trail runners who seek more intense training.
Along this trail, runners are greeted with views of the beach, cypress swamps, Lake Susan Constant, the salt marshes, and Wolfsnare Creek.
Mt. Trashmore Park
Interestingly called Mt. Trashmore Park because of the former landfill site it sits on, this park is a fantastic open green space to come to if you want a quick run that isn’t too difficult.
While there are a handful of small trails found at the park, the most popular is the 2.5-mile loop trail that runs around the lake.
If this isn’t to your fancy, and you would prefer to focus on different aspects of your running performance, training on the killer stairs or the hill to the top of the park could be your best option.
While there aren’t too many stairs and the hill is only small, their steepness makes the location excellent for training.
You can find this park just off the I-264 between Virginia Beach and Norfolk Downtown.
Fort Munroe may technically be just outside Virginia Beach in neighboring Norfolk but if you have time and want a change of scenery, it is a great location for getting some miles in while also taking in some great views and one of Virginia’s most iconic attractions.
The Fort Munroe National Monument has an area of 565 acres and is the favorite spot of many runners from Norfolk. It is actually the largest stone-built fort in the entire United States.
Found on a barrier spit of land, the area features 8-miles of flat, very easy-going trail that takes runners along beaches and waterfronts.
Offering incredible scenic running, here you have plenty of running options. There is a 2-mile trail incorporating the paved waterfront path, a loop around the fort, and the National Monument.
There are also some great open green spaces to practice your interval sprints.
Alternatively, for long-distance runners, there are 8-10-mile trails that combine everything Fort Munroe has to offer.
Red Wing Park Gardens
The final running trail on our list is the Red Wing Park gardens trails found not too far away from the beach.
Less than a mile in length, this loop trail isn’t the best trail for any serious runners but instead for those that want a light jog in a pleasant part of the city.
While the trail is quite popular with hikers, runners, and walkers, compared to the other trails on this list, it is extremely quiet and secluded.
As you make your way through the park, you can expect to see a variety of gardens, including a beautiful Japanese garden, swamps, open green spaces, and some of Virginia Beach’s wildlife.
Overall, if you want a more relaxed run, in a beautiful, peaceful setting, you should definitely check the Red Wing Trail out.
Personally, we also find this trail a great spot to have a nice walk with the family and maybe even a picnic.
That concludes our list of running trails found in Virginia Beach. As you can see from our list, there is a wide range of excellent places to run in Virginia Beach no matter what level of runner you are.
Whether you’re an experienced marathon runner or someone who likes to take things easier, Virginia Beach has something for everyone.
The best things about the trails we have taken a look at on our list is how you don’t have to travel far, you have a range of running options, and you get to explore the city and what it has to offer when you run.
Now you have our list, why not take some time to decide where you next want to go running in Virginia Beach.
If you’re a tourist visiting the city, we highly recommend starting at the beach as this is the most iconic spot the city has to offer.