your paddlesports destination

Back Bay / False Cape State Park in Virginia

Trip Overview

Departed from the ranger station on Back Bay Rd. Lots of parking and nice concrete boat launch. You'll encounter people fishing at the launch, also the occasional powerboater launching here. About a 1/4-mile paddle straight out through the marshes in a dredged cut. Suddenly, you are in the Back Bay, which is fed by Albemarle Sound to the south from North Carolina. Water is brackish to fresh. About 5.5 miles across to False Cape State Park. I stopped at Big Cedar Island after 2.5 hours tough paddling against the tide, but with 10-15 knot wind and 1-2 foot waves behind. Saw hawks circling, landed at a very small patch of white sand among the dense brush growing into the water all around the fabled falling-down house. The island appeared to be too thickly grown up and buggy to explore. Turned around and faced a big water moccasin swimming along shore and around my kayak, head up out of the water and obviously being stalked by the hawks. As soon as the moccasin swamp downshore 20-30 feet and into the brush, I got the heck off that island and headed back across the bay--this time with the tide but against the 10-15 know wind and the 1-2 foot waves. A spray skirt was an absolute necessity. Saw only one powerboat the whole day, otherwise, I was way out on the water all alone. Navigating back across the bay, use the big radio tower as your target to return to the very small ranger station cut, which is hard to spot among the tall marsh grasses. On returning to the landing, the fishermen told me that they see moccasins, but more often "water snakes" at the launch.


Sandbridge Rd. to Blackwater Rd., then left on Back Bay Rd., a dirt road through farm fields, to the ranger station.

  • Duration: Day Trip
  • Sport/Activity: Kayaking, Canoeing
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Water Type: Open Water/Ocean
  • Group Rates: No

Locations on this Trip