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False Cape
State Park
IUCN Category V (Protected Landscape/Seascape)

False Cape State Park is bounded on the west by Back Bay
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 (17,490 km)
Governing body Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation

False Cape State Park is a state park in the independent city of Virginia Beach, Virginia. It is a mile-wide barrier spit between Back Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. The park adjoins the state border with North Carolina. 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 probably erected in 1887 when the boundary was surveyed.

Park access is through Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge, and is limited to hiking, bicycling or boating, however, 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 in one of the last undisturbed coastal environments on the East Coast.

The area was named for its resemblance to Cape Henry when seen from the ocean. 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 treacherous shallow waters, where they often ran aground.

According to popular legend, the now lost community of Wash Woods was developed by survivors of such a shipwreck in the 16th or early 17th century. 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 prestigious hunt clubs, which took advantage of the area's abundant waterfowl. The park's Wash Woods Environmental Education Center is a converted hunt clubhouse.

In 2004, a story in The Virginian-Pilot (Norfolk) newspaper about the poor conditions of a trash dump area in the park garnered public attention and remedial action by state officials. In a follow up story of May 3, 2005, the newspaper reported "a stunning turnaround for a situation that had lingered for years." The story reported that park employees, volunteers and private firms from the region had joined in a massive cleanup project in the remote area which is virtually inaccessible by vehicles. [1]

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

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