Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge

3100 Desert Road

The Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge is the largest intact remnant of a vast habitat that once covered more than one million acres of southeastern Virginia and northeastern North Carolina. Formal protection of this resource began in 1973, when the Union Camp Corporation (a local forest products company) donated 49,097acres to The Nature Conservancy. The Nature Conservancy conveyed the donated land to the federal government, which, combined with additionally purchased land, was used to establish the Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge in 1974.

The Dismal Swamp Act of 1974 directs the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to: “Manage the area for the primary purpose of protecting and preserving a unique and outstanding ecosystem, as well as protecting and perpetuating the diversity of animal and plant life therein. Management of the refuge will be directed to stabilize conditions in as wild a character as possible, consistent with achieving the refuge’s stated objectives.”


Jonathan Norris

Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018

Hiked the Washington Ditch trail the 5 miles to Lake Drummond. This place is very serene and the solitude is nice. It's a great little escape so close to the city. I got there early and it was just me and nature. I'm giving it 4 stars because it's essentially a straight shot on an overgrown road for 5 miles, so it isn't challenging in any way unless you have trouble walking. The lake itself is beautiful. Highly recommend!

Ellen Pitt

Saturday, Jan. 27, 2018

We walk there almost every weekend. There is a 3/4 board walk at the Washington ditch and a gravel road you can also walk, but the road at the Rail Road ditch is much smoother. You park and walk in and maybe 2 mile down the road there's a boardwalk through a Cypress swamp that's very pretty. We've seen deer, ducks, beaver, bears. Very peaceful. Going out again today.

Bri Mini

Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2017

Walked about 5 miles down Washington Ditch to the Lake. Very peaceful, very clean, beautiful. A few benches but if walking is hard for you I wouldn't suggest. Definitely a good hike. Nice little patio and lookout at the lake front. I would highly suggest biking! This is a great place for it.

Brian Coons

Friday, Dec. 15, 2017

I really enjoy coming to the Great Dismal Swamp Canal Trail! Especially during the fall as there are far fewer people the trail. I like to go there during the day can I go for a nice long quiet walk. I usually start down near the boat ramp then and walk North... Far fewer people and up down at that end! Walking or riding the trail during the Spring and Summer also has it benefits as there is plenty of Flora and Fauna to enjoy

Stanley Bizub

Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018

Nice flat trails. I entered from Jericho lane and went Jericho to Williamson ditch trail, and up to east for a 16 mile out-and-back trail run with a slight detour back via new bridge trail and hudnell. I didn't see anybody back that way and couldn't find a connector from hudnell to east. It's also quite muddy in certain places. Some large birds both on the trail and that I spooked in the ditch water. Overall a tough run for marathon training but a great experience