Great Dismal Swamp
National Wildlife Refuge
|3100 Desert Road
Suffolk, VA 23434
Phone Number: 757-986-3705
|Visit the Refuge's Web Site:
Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge
The Great Dismal Swamp NWR is located in southeastern Virginia and northeastern North Carolina. It includes over 111,000-acres of forested wetlands, with Lake Drummond, a 3,100-acre lake, at its heart.
The Great Dismal Swamp has long been considered a place of natural beauty, mystery, and legend. The swamp is an integral part of the cultural history of the region and remains a place of refuge for both wildlife and people.
The Dismal Swamp Canal, operated by the Army Corps of Engineers makes up the eastern boundary of the refuge. On the western side of the refuge, two trail entrances, Jericho and Washington Ditch, provide access to some of the 100 miles of hiking and biking trails in the refuge. The Railroad Ditch entrance is open by permit for vehicle access to Lake Drummond.
Getting There . . .
The refuge's trailheads are located along White Marsh Road- Route 642, in Suffolk, Virginia. From Interstate-664, take exit-13A toward Suffolk. Follow Route 58 West to the Downtown Suffolk exit. Follow Business 58 West to the first traffic light. Turn left onto Route 337- East Washington Street. Follow East Washington Street to the White Marsh Road intersection. Turn left onto White Marsh Road and follow to the Jericho Ditch(0.9 miles) and Washington Ditch (4.4 miles) entrances. The refuge office is located on Desert Road in Suffolk, Virginia. Follow White Marsh Road to the intersection of Desert Road. Turn left and follow Desert Road, approximately 1.6 miles. Refuge headquarters is on the left.
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The refuge was established to "protect and restore" the unique ecosystem of the Great Dismal Swamp. Centuries of logging and ditching have drastically altered the landscape and the hydrology of the swamp. Management activities now include the use of controlled burns to mimic the wildfires that once renewed the forest. Water control structures are used to manipulate water levels in the ditches, mimicking the seasonal flooding that once occurred and slowing water loss.
The refuge had one of the largest remaining Atlantic white cedar forest in the world until Hurricane Isabel devastated the stands in September 2003. The hurricane inflicted considerable damage to the refuge cedar stands and increased the probability of a catastrophic wildfire. A major salvage and restoration project is underway to restore this rare resource and reduce wildfire fuel on the forest floors.