Take a hike — literally!
There's no need to head for the hills or drive for hours to find agreeable walking trails on the Peninsula. The whole region is dotted with green space and paved areas where walkers can escape for an hour or two while getting in their recommended 10,000 paces daily.
Some trails capitalize on the area's natural setting while others simply provide a respite within the cityscape. The area's long history also provides an interesting backdrop to several of these suggested walks.
THE MATTESON TRAIL
320 Butler Farm Road, Hampton.
Directions: Take Magruder Boulevard north, left on Butler Farm Road after Hampton Roads Center Parkway, take first right before The Hamptons Golf Course entrance. Keep right and park in the lot. Entrance to the trail is on the right.
Length: 3-mile loop with markers every mile
Hours: Sunrise to sunset daily
Surface: Flat, asphalt path; in a few areas tree roots have caused ripples in the asphalt but it's suitable for buggies and wheelchairs
Environment: Shaded, leafy path follows the contours of the golf course through deciduous woods; there are a couple of ponds too. Benches at the mile markers offer opportunities for rest. Developed by a bird enthusiast, the trail has display boards depicting birds that may be seen along the way, including wrens, thrushes, bluebirds, black-capped chickadees and kestrels. Expect company from a few walkers, an occasional dog on a leash, and a jogger or two.
Cautions: Watch for golfers hitting balls. Also, if you stray from the trail, there's a poison ivy and tick alert.
Directions: Take LaSalle Avenue until it dead-ends into Chesapeake Avenue
Length: About 3 miles of shoreline
Surface: City sidewalks with curb cuts
Environment: Residential area provides a spectacular view of the open waters of Hampton Roads as well as a look at the facades of some fine homes. Starting at the LaSalle end of the avenue, after one block, there's a sidewalk that continues all the way to the end of the avenue at 16th Street in Newport News. The sidewalk is across the street from the water. The water side divides between private, unfenced property along the grassy shorefront and public areas with Civil War Trails markers that detail the First Battle of the Ironclads.
The length of the avenue is marked by splendid trees, including magnolias and live oaks, and a dramatic water view with a breeze that sweeps up the smell of the sea with it.
Cautions: Respect the private property signs.