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  • Location: Cape Charles, Virginia

The Southern Tip Bike & Hike Trail provides a safe, educational, and enjoyable five-mile connection between the Eastern Shore of the Virginia National Wildlife Refuge and Kiptopeke State Park. B&N designed Phase 1 and Phase 2 of this U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) project.

Phase 1

The first phase of this trail project provides pedestrian access to the Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center at the south end of the site as well as points north within the Refuge. For this 2.5-mile trail segment, B&N added horizontal curves to the trail to create scenic views and utilized creative landscape plantings and preserved the existing treeline as much as possible to enhance the user experience.

Design challenges included working with the site’s flat topography and protected wildlife habitats. To preserve protected wildlife habitats in the area, B&N used only native plants along the trail.  To overcome drainage challenges presented by the flat topography, B&N re-routed overland ditches to ensure safe drainage of standing water along the path.

Phase 2

For the project’s second phase, B&N designed a 2.5-mile bike trail along the Route 13 corridor within the Eastern Shore of the National Wildlife Refuge, following the Old Cape Charles Railroad bed. Services for this phase also included surveying, civil engineering, and environmental design.

Phase 2 was designed in accordance with Virginia’s stringent new stormwater management criteria. To maintain compliance with the new standards, the trail alignment was designed to uphold the natural forested land of The Nature Conservancy property while facilitating positive drainage and mimicking the quantity and quality runoff characteristics of unimproved land.  

In addition, drainage improvements were made to existing VDOT culverts, and natural detention and infiltration areas were utilized for stormwater storage. Conservation easements were established over the undeveloped areas within the property to ensure a permanent forested condition adjacent to this trail and provide for natural stormwater filtering. Erosion and sediment control design also was critical to protect the wetlands located throughout the project limits.

Review Agency Coordination

This project required coordination with multiple review agencies including: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, The Nature Conservancy, Virginia Department of Transportation, Northampton County, and Virginia Department of Environmental Quality. This included coordination with Northampton County for erosion and sediment control and VDOT review for Phases 1 and 2.