False Cape State Park

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False Cape State Park Entrance
False Cape State Park Visitor Center
False Cape
State Park
IUCN category V (protected landscape/seascape)
FalseCapeBackBay1.wmg.jpg
False Cape State Park is bounded on the west by Back Bay of the Currituck Sound
Location Virginia, United States
Nearest city Virginia Beach, VA
Coordinates 36°35′16″N 75°53′3″W / 36.58778°N 75.88417°W / 36.58778; -75.88417Coordinates: 36°35′16″N 75°53′3″W / 36.58778°N 75.88417°W / 36.58778; -75.88417
Area 4,321 acres (17.49 km2)
Governing body Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation

False Cape State Park is a state park in Virginia Beach, Virginia. It lies on the Currituck Banks Peninsula which is a mile-wide barrier spit between the Back Bay of the Currituck Sound and the Atlantic Ocean on Virginia's Outer Banks. The park adjoins the state border with North Carolina and lies shortly north of Mackay Island National Wildlife Refuge.

At the south end of the park is a monument with "Va." on one side and "N Ca" on the other. Although it reads "A.D. 1728" on the top, it was more likely erected in 1887 when the boundary was surveyed again, since the original marker was a simple cedar post. "A.D. 1728" refers to the year in which the current boundary was first surveyed.[1]

Park access is through Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge, and is limited to hiking, bicycling or boating. The park also offers tram and beach crawler (known as the Terra Gator) transportation for day visitors during certain seasons. The park features primitive camping and an extensive environmental education program

The park was named for False Cape, which lies within the park. False Cape earned its name due to its resemblance to Cape Henry when seen from the ocean.[2] This false impression lured ships and boats looking for the real Cape Henry (about 20 miles (30 km) to the north at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay) into the shallow waters, where they could more readily run aground. Because of the high number of shipwrecks here and all along the Outer Banks, it earned the nickname "Graveyard of the Atlantic".

The community of Wash Woods, now abandoned, was developed by survivors of such a shipwreck in the 16th or early 17th century.[3] The village’s church and other structures were built using cypress wood that washed ashore from a wreck. In the early 20th century, False Cape was a haven for a number of hunt clubs taking advantage of the area's abundant waterfowl. The park's Wash Woods Environmental Education Center is a converted hunt clubhouse.[4] In 2004, The Virginian-Pilot reported poor conditions at a trash dump area in the park which were subsequently resolved by a cleanup project park employees, volunteers and private firms.

Undeveloped portions of the park were rededicated as the False Cape Natural Area Preserve in 2002.

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