Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge

EASY 16 reviews

Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge is a 9 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Suffolk, VA that features a lake and is good for all skill levels. The trail is primarily used for hiking and mountain biking and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

9.0 miles Out & Back

dogs on leash

kid friendly

hiking

mountain biking

forest

lake

river

views

wild flowers

wildlife

bugs

hiking
18 days ago

The George Washington Ditch trail is wide, swamp/tree lined, and features a canal running along the edge the whole way out to Lake Drummond. You naturally end up walking in one of two vehicle tracks, which gives it a pretty country/rural feel, though after a couple miles you're ready for a change in scenery. Definitely go all the way to the lake because it's really remote and starkly beautiful.

Beautiful lake, peaceful walk. Even saw a bear walk onto the trail ahead of us! Nice way to spend a Sunday!

mountain biking
6 months ago

over all good trail. was able to take both of my boys age 4 and 8, of course my youngest was in a bike trailer. we saw a good amount of wildlife to include deer, turtles, beavers, and an abundance of butterflies. it's roughly about 4.5 miles from the start to Lake Drummond. be prepared there were a bunch of nuisance creatures ticks, horse flies, mosquitoes, and snakes.

trail running
1 year ago

Quiet and peaceful. I didn't see anyone on the trail, it may have had something to do with the gate being closed to vehicles on Sunday. I just parked outside the gate and went from there. Beautiful trail, but the straight road was a little boring. My dog loved it!

1 year ago

Historical yes, quiet trail yes, exciting and adventurous curves to the trails no. Probably wouldn't go back.

hiking
1 year ago

Easy flat trails and generally have the place to myself on weekday evenings and most weekends.

The Washington Ditch is my go to here. I often see deer, herons, turtles, and occasional foxes. Unlike Jericho Ditch, there's not a ton of undergrowth and you get a good view into the woods (though the undergrowth gets thicker as you go farther).

Jericho can be interesting, but has a lot of defense undergrowth in all directions.

if you're looking to photograph wildlife, bring a long lens and lots of patience.

mountain biking
2 years ago

It may have been self-inflicted, but the bugs were horrible. Monstrous things that attacked as soon as you get out of your vehicle, but it is a swamp so that's the nature of the beast. The trail itself was slow going. The scenery was nice, but mostly just trees and grass. I didn't see a whole lot of wildflowers etc... I think my favorite part was the butterflies everywhere and the lake at the end. Probably won't go back though.

mountain biking
2 years ago

Its a swamp with man made roads used as trails, better for walking or running. Best used during the fall and winter when the bugs are gone and that wonderful swamp water smell is at its lowest. Nice views and pretty friendly wildlife with a nice lake once you get there.

mountain biking
3 years ago

Rode this on my bike and it was wet and slow but oh so beautiful!

mountain biking
3 years ago

I liked it but the bugs liked me. The Washington Ditch is beautiful but it does not change a whole lot most of the way.

mountain biking
3 years ago

I agree with Juan. It was on my bucket list and I had my bike with me s-o-o-o-o-o; why did I want to do this trail? Oh, I remember; I thought it would be beautiful Cyprus swamp like in First Landing State Park or Northwest River Park. Anyway, I can scratch it off my list. Also, did somebody mention bugs? Deet did not help and I doubt that Cutters would.

mountain biking
4 years ago

Omg I remembet this bike trail. Took the family there 4yrs ago and the bugs rule here. Family had fun but we'll never return lol. I'll recommend this place once but only to get it off ur bike trails bucket list lol..

hiking
5 years ago

Did both Washington Ditch Trail and the Dismal Town Boardwalk Trail.

Boardwalk Trail is about a mile. It being late fall and pretty dry, the Boardwalk trail wasn't too exciting. I'm sure Spring and mid October are prettier.

Ditch Trail is 4.5 miles one way to Lake Drummond. The trail is very easy. It reminded me of walking the C&O Towpatch but without any elevation gain whatsoever.

There were a few young families with small kids at the beginning of the Ditch trail but since it goes for some distance they tended to turn around before too long. I passed a handful of others towards Lake Drummond but otherwise, had the trail to myself.

The water in the ditch along the trail looks pretty dark and made for some dramatic pix. I'm sure when leaves are changing things are even prettier. There's an observation deck at Lake Drummond and that makes for a welcome rest stop after the hike to the lake. Very serene. Very quite, except for the ducks or geese in the lake. Got to the lake by around 2PM on a sunny November day. Not a cloud in the sky and was pretty warm for late November, 66 degrees. If I had brought my head lamp I might have stayed until sunset. Maybe another trip. I'm sure it's worth doing.

Not a strenuous hike at all but on a nice clear day a good trail to walk off some post Thanksgiving indulgences.



hiking
5 years ago

Sort of dull and insect repellant did not seem to deter the yellow flies. Eh.

hiking
5 years ago

Lots of wildlife, very easy trail for the family. The Cyprus trees are very large and a nice sight to see

mountain biking
6 years ago

The Washington Ditch trail is a path that ends at the lake. It is flat, the trail is just two ruts made from vehicles driving on the path. The path was wet, but not sloppy muddy. There are a lot of bug, bring insect/mosquito repellent...it is a swamp after all. The path is quite smooth, with very few potholes or debris to avoid. There is a lot of wildlife to see. I saw birds, turtles, raccoons, and one small deer. There are several other ditches that can be explored, but I was not able to as it started raining, so I headed home. At the Refuge Headquarters, you can pick up a map with the trails on it.