Saturday, March 11, 2017

Group Hike in the Great Dismal Swamp

A week ago Saturday, I led a group hike for the Old Dominion Appalachian Trail Club (ODATC) into the Great Dismal Swamp.  Sure, far from the Appalachians, but we are about hiking anywhere.  Four of us went on the hike:

This was my third hike this year to the Great Dismal Swamp.  The other two were to scout out this hike by seeing if I could find a better hike for the group than the Washington Ditch Trail to Lake Drummond.  But all of the other hikes I scouted, three in total including a hike in November, were not as appealing as the Washington Ditch, so that is the one that I chose.  Here are a series of maps showing the route.

This gives the general location of the hike, in Southeastern Virginia.  The dashed line is the state line between Virginia and North Carolina.  The arrow points to Lake Drummond, and the red circle is the location of last Saturday's hike.  The blue circle shows the location of my last scouting hike on the Hudnel and Williamson Ditch Trails.

Here is the track for the hike along Washington Ditch, to and from Lake Drummond.  Below that is the same track as a satellite image.

One of the nice things about this hike is that you can see the water in the canal and swamp for most of the way.  Here are typical views.  Much of the time, it is a fairly narrow canal with some swampy areas beyond that, but there was one portion that had been flooded by beavers that was quite wide.

Violets are already in bloom, and we saw many of them.

The day of the hike, March 3, was quite chilly.  But the recent weather has been very warm, and trees are budding and flowering all over the place.

Speaking of beaver (the second largest rodent in the world, and the largest in North America), we saw plenty of evidence.  Here are three photos - fresh beaver cuttings, a dam that is nicely convex to the upstream side (almost like an arch), and a beaver lodge:

Our turn-around point, and lunch spot, was at Lake Drummond, one of only two natural lakes in the whole state.  It is large and beautiful, and also very shallow, with an average depth of just three feet.

Along the trail, Theresa was a good citizen, and picked up the trash left by uncaring citizens:

The hike to and fro the lake is almost 10 miles, counting a little circuit we did on a boardwalk through the swamp.  I highly recommend it.  This was my third time on this trail, and my sixth time hiking in the Great Dismal Swamp.  I think our entire little group enjoyed it.


  1. What a great hike with some great pictures.
    How cool to see that beaver dam.

    1. I had a lot of fun there. No major wildlife this time, but I did like seeing the beaver dam. It was not there a year ago - I am pretty sure - when a group of us hiked in there.