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Visitor Activities

Visitors walking in the woods
  • Hunting

    White-tailed deer

    A white-tailed deer hunt is held on 13 days in October and November. A scouting day is held on the last Saturday in September. A refuge permit and state hunting license are required. The refuge permit is $15. Applications are through An additional application fee applies.

    A black bear hunt is held in mid-November. A refuge permit and state hunting license are required. This is a quota hunt. Fifty registered hunters will be drawn. Each selected hunter is allowed to designate a companion. Each hunter is required to have a refuge permit ($25) and a state big game hunting license. Applications are through An additional application fee applies.

    Portions of the refuge are closed to other public use activities on hunt and scouting days.

    For more information...

  • Fishing

    Aerial view of Lake Drummond

    Fishing and boating are allowed year-round on Lake Drummond with access via the Feeder Ditch, connecting Lake Drummond with the Dismal Swamp Canal. A public boat ramp is located on the Dismal Swamp Canal, north of the Feeder Ditch at Ballahack Road. Boats must be small enough to portage around the water control structure near the lake or less than 1,000 lbs to use the electric tram for lifting to the higher level of the Lake. Vessels are limited to 25 hp on Lake Drummond. A Virginia fresh water fishing license is required.

    Boating access at the Interior Ditch boat ramp is by a Special Use Permit during the fishing season of April 1 to June 15. Permit applications are accepted beginning March 1 each year.

    Lake Drummond is open to boating and fishing from sunrise to sunset.

  • Wildlife Viewing

    Visitors looking through binoculars

    A variety of unpaved roads provides opportunities for observing wildlife by hiking, biking, and an auto tour route.

    Recommended in the Washington Ditch entrance, adjacent to the parking area, is the handicap accessible ¾ mile Washington Ditch Boardwalk Trail. For a hardier adventure, try the Washington Ditch Trail. It is a 4 ½ mile dirt road to Lake Drummond, great for hiking or biking. At the lake there is an observation deck and scope.

    Through the Railroad Ditch entrance (also the auto tour route) enjoy wildlife around the Cypress Marsh corner. A beaver lodge can be seen from the road. The open expanse of the Lateral West/South One fire scar is luring in large groups of species that had previously been uncommon to the refuge. Take a while to relax at the observation deck on Lake Drummond.

    Download the Visitor Information Guide (pdf)
    Download the self-serve auto tour permit (pdf)

    Download the Railroad Ditch Trail Guide (pdf)

    Download the Public Use map for trails and entrance locations 

  • Interpretation

    Interpretive signs at the refuge

    Each spring the refuge celebrates International Migratory Bird Day with a three day Birding Festival. The festival features guided bird walks, guided tours, guided canoe trips, birding workshops, photography workshops, and family friendly activities.

    Summer brings guided bus tours to Lake Drummond, scheduled through our partner, Suffolk Tourism. Contact them at 757-514-4130 for dates and tickets.

    Other programs, such as winter bird walks, Owl prowls, and seasonal workshops are offered throughout the year and are advertised in refuge calendar.

    Cultural History is given center stage at the Underground Railroad Education Pavilion. 


  • Environmental Education

    EE group collecting data

    A refuge orientation is available to organized school, scout, civic, and professional groups, Mondays through Fridays, by advanced reservation. Commercial vehicle access to Lake Drummond is limited to buses of 25 passengers or less, by special permit only.

    A typical visit would include a 15 minute presentation at either the refuge headquarters or at a trail head (recommended for larger groups) followed by a self guided activity.

  • Photography

    Bird on a branch

    Many visitors come to photograph the natural beauty of the forest, Lake Drummond, and the plants and animals living within the refuge. The spring migration of neo-tropical bird species brings glowing flashes of color into the forest vegetation. Summer is the best time for capturing the array of butterflies and dragonflies that dart around the trails and ditches. At anytime of the year a photograph of the shy but ever popular black bear will be a lifetime trophy.


Last Updated: May 07, 2015
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