We very much enjoyed the Great Dismal Swamp. We started by parking off of old Rt. 17 near the Feeder Ditch to the Great Dismal Swamp Canal. This is a dead end road. There was plenty of parking off the road and some trash cans. (There are no bathroom facilities.) There is a small dock to put in your boat. There was about a 3 foot drop so if you have a heavy boat with supplies, it could get tricky. (There is a new park up the road with a boat launch, but will require extra paddling to get to Lake Drummond.) We put in around 4:30pm. The water was super warm and the sky was beautiful. Only issue was that the sun was completely in our eyes. We had to paddle on the sides of the feeder ditch to be able to see. It is about a 5 mile paddle to the camping spot. It took us about 1 hour and 45 minutes to get there. We did stop and check things out, but we were cruising most of the time. Bring a good camera or some way to keep your phone from getting wet. You will take lots of pictures. Probably 30 minutes into our paddle, we saw a mamma black bear and her cub swimming across the feeder ditch. They just swam and hustled out on the other side, but they were pretty close.
The campsite was great to see because we had been paddling for a long time. Go around to the left side of the island. There will be some docks that you can tie up to. You can also go a little further and just slide up onto the hill. The island had working mens/womens bathrooms, electricity, and screened in porches to get away from the bugs. There was no person on duty but I think maybe on the weekends there is someone. The bathrooms were simple, but clean. They have water but not for drinking. You must bring all of your water with you. They have lights all over the island that you can turn on or keep off. The island can support quite a few campers. It may get super busy at times. When we were there, there was only one other man with his 3 children. There is a giant field with a pit toilet on the other side of the feeder ditch for camping as well. The screened porches are simple huts with a picnic table inside. There was a line that we used to hang clothes.
After getting our tent up, we hopped back in our boat/paddle board and paddled another 1/2 mile to Lake Drummond. We were chasing the setting sun. If we had been there 30 minutes earlier, it probably would have been even more spectacular. But what we got was very nice too. Paddling in, you are going west following the sun. The lake was super calm and made everything reflective. The color of the sky mixed with the water, made it magical. We stayed out in the lake until after dark, taking pictures. It was stunning. We had to use our headlamps to paddle back to camp. Be sure to keep an eye on where you are. It is very easy to not see the entrance to the feeder ditch. There is a yellow sign nailed to a tree as a marker.
In the morning, we paddled back out to the lake to explore. The weather was beautiful again and the lake was glassy. The trees had a perfect reflection in the water. My husband paddle boarded across the lake and I played in the trees along the shore. The green colors everywhere were simply stunning.
In the afternoon, the wind started to pick up and started to make small ripples on the water. You have to check the weather for the lake. If there are high winds, the lake can get really choppy.
The paddle back out was long, but nice and quiet. The bugs were not bad. We did use bug spray. I never got bit but my husband who was paddle boarding, had to kill about 12 biting flies. He says they were manageable. But be aware that you are in a swamp and the insects are going to be there.
We were not expecting the swamp to be as spectacular as it was. This is certainly a place to go and check out. Remember to bring all of your food, water, and bug spray.
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