Great Dismal Swamp


I was torn between biking or paddling in the Great Dismal Swamp this weekend. On the one hand, Lake Drummond is considered to be a destination that should be on any paddler’s “to do” list. On the other hand, I had a new mountain bike that needed a “shakedown” cruise. Decisions, decisions, decisions. In the end, the weather made the decision for me. Thunderstorms were predicted starting around 11AM and if I was going to be caught in a thunderstorm, I’d rather be on the bike than somewhere in the middle of Lake Drummond. So biking it is. I loaded up the bike and headed off to check out the Washington Ditch.

I arrived at the parking area for the Boardwalk Trail around 9AM and headed toward Lake Drummond on the Washington Ditch. It doesn’t take long to realize that the Great Dismal Swamp is both Great and Dismal. It really does impart a sense of remoteness. I also quickly realized that I had forgotten two important items – my camera and bug repellent. The bugs weren’t a problem while moving – but the moment I stopped, the black flies would attack.

It’s only about 4 miles to Lake Drummond. The lake was as smooth as glass – more precisely black glass – and for some reason, has the most surreal appearance of any lake I’ve seen. I’m certainly looking forward to coming back with the kayak.

Heading back on Washington Ditch, I wanted to add some miles so I headed north on the Lynn Ditch and then west on Jericho Lane exiting on White Marsh Road. Five miles back to the parking area for a total or 21 miles.

There are supposedly more than 140 miles of roads within the GDSNWR. It will be fun to see just how many can be put together to make good loops for biking. I think I’ll be spending a lot of time in the swamp.

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