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757-986-3705                                                           website
3100 Desert Rd, Suffolk, VA  23434      
South of Suffolk, Va. on Rte 13 to Rte 32 south.  South for 4.5 miles, then follow signs.  For Boardwalk trail, take White Marsh road (Rte 642) to Washington Ditch Road.  Follow road to parking lot.  Washington Ditch entrance is the refuge’s main public entrance.

GENERAL DESCRIPTION:  Many tales have been told about the Great Dismal and its mysterious circular lake, a biological wonder few have ever experienced. Several poets and history writers viewed this place in different ways: both a paradise and a place of foreboding unknown; rich and desolate; sweet smelling and pungent; a place where a person may find peace, or if lost, may never find the way out. It is the largest intact remnant of a vast habitat that once covered more than one million acres of southeastern Virginia and northeastern North Carolina.

Great Dismal Swamp is located in southeastern Virginia and northeastern North Carolina.  Visitors enjoy birdwatching, hiking, biking, boating, fishing, and hunting. Home to black bear, bobcat, river otter and over 200 species of birds, the Swamp provides adventure for all ages.

In the period just before the Civil War, the swamp offered shelter and refuge for freedom-seekers traveling north to the port of Norfolk and beyond. Archeologists are just now uncovering the story of the maroons, multi-generational communities of escaped slaves that choose to remain within the cover of the swamp. Their numbers remain unknown. Documented evidence led to the designation of the Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge as an official site on the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom.

PARKING:  2 designated accessible parking spaces, located at Refuge headquarters.  Parking space 11 ft. wide.  Nearby ramps well marked.  RV parking limited.

TYPES OF PATHS TO OR AROUND ATTRACTION:  Paths  accessible to persons with mobility disabilities.  Packed gravel parking lot leads visitors to boardwalk trail.  Boardwalk Trail has wheelchair pulloffs approximately every 200’.  Steep grades may require assistance for persons in wheelchairs.  Length of paths 3/4 of a mile.

ENTRANCE:  At office.  2 glass entry doors, each 3 ft. wide, easily open out with clearly marked push bar handle located 2 ft. above floor.

PUBLIC REST ROOMS:  Located at Refuge headquarters.  Doors 2 ft. wide, open in.  No turns to enter.  Accessible stalls have 34 in. wide doors opening in and handrails.  19  in. toilet seat height, 12 in. between commode and wall.  Sink height 35 in.  Accessible stall checked regularly for obstructions.  Port-a-toilet in parking lot is accessible for persons with mobility disabilities.

TELEPHONE:  Cell phone reception is unreliable.

For guests with hearing disabilities, there are written scripts available.

For guests with visual disabilities, there are audio cassettes and portable tape recorders with advance notice, and signs in large print with contrasting background.  Some brochures in large print. 

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:  No admission fee. Headquarter hours:  Mon-Fri 8-4, closed on weekends and all federal holidays. The trail system is open seven days a week, sunrise to sunset, for hiking and biking.

Railroad Ditch Road 3120 Desert Road, Suffolk, VA is the auto tour route to Lake Drummond. It is a six mile, gravel, all weather road.Along the route, visit the Underground Railroad Education Pavilion, the Cypress Marsh with an 800 year old cypress tree, the West Ditch Boardwalk, and Lake Drummond.

An observation deck is located at the lake. The Railroad Ditch Auto Tour route is open Monday-Saturday, 7:30a to 3:00p, vehicles must exit the gate by 4:00p. It is recommended to contact the refuge office before a planned visit to inquire on availability of the pass as refuge management and road conditions occasionally restrict access. Fishing from pier is allowed. Boat launching by terms of the Self‐serve Auto Tour permit.

As you drive, please watch out for snakes and turtles sunning themselves in the road. And be sure to bring your binoculars and cameras, because you never know what you might see!

Link to norfolk airport

When enjoying the outdoors, please remember to be mindful of the elements. It is a good idea to wear bug repellent and sunscreen while fishing or walking along one of the many refuge nature trails. Sources of potable water are not available on the trails. In order to stay properly hydrated it would be beneficial to bring drinking water along on your visit.

The refuge offers five entrances from which visitors will find many miles of trails for exploring. The Washington Ditch Trail, 3076 White Marsh Rd and the Jericho Ditch Trail, 1330 White Marsh Road, are both located in Suffolk, VA. They provide the best dirt roads for hiking and biking. The Railroad Ditch Road is located at 3120 Desert Road in Suffolk, VA, and is the only auto access to Lake Drummond. The Portsmouth Ditch entrance is located off Martin‐Johnson Road, in Chesapeake, VA. The Feeder Ditch, also in Chesapeake, is located on the Dismal Swamp Canal and is a by‐water‐only entrance.


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