April 12, 2024

Long Flat Hikes: Great Dismal Swamp (Day Hike, 9 Miles, Easy)

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Sunday, 03/18/2018

9:30 am - 5:00 pm

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Great Dismal Swamp-Washington Ditch Trailhead

It’s been a long cold winter, and maybe you haven’t gotten out on the trail as much as you intended to. Have no fear, we will get back into mountain hiking shape in no time! This series of hikes is going to focus more on distance and building up a little speed rather than elevation. Thus, I came up with the clever name “Long Flat Hikes”.

The first LFH will explore Great Dismal Swamp NWR. This hike is an out-and-back hike along a grassy service road beside swampland. *Disclaimer*: Some say this hike isn’t that exciting; but it is actually one of my favorite places. If you really look for it, there is a lot of life to be discovered.

At the farthest point out we will arrive at Lake Drummond, the heart of the swamp. The lake is 3,108 acres and is one of only 2 natural lakes in Virginia. It is beautiful and mysterious, and there is still uncertainty as to how it formed, although there are several working theories (huge forest fire which burned a large layer of peat, climate change having occurred in another era blowing sand ridges and rainwater around, or fragments of an icy comet or meteor crashing to earth). We can rest and eat lunch at the lake before heading back the same 4.5 miles that we came in.

There is a lot of historical significance to the swamp-I recommend checking out the website to read about George Washington’s involvement in the creation of the ditches, as well as information about the swamp being a known hideout for colonies of escaped slaves on the underground railroad.

This trail is and grassy and flat–it might be a good training hike for backpacking if you bring a full pack.  The parking lot for the Washington Ditch trail (where we will be starting) does have vault toilets, but no drinking water is available there.

If there is interest, we can make an early dinner stop on the way back, someplace along Rt. 460.

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