The Nice Dismal Swamp Is Pleasant AND Pet Pleasant


Don’t dismiss the Nice Dismal Swamp based mostly on its identify—it’s a pleasant place to go to with pets! If you happen to’re planning a visit to Virginia Seaside, Hampton Roads, or North Carolina’s Outer Banks, the Nice Dismal Swamp makes a terrific addition to your itinerary.

Honey the Golden Retriever dog on the boardwalk at the pet friendly Great Dismal Swamp


Situated on the border between Virginia and North Carolina, the Nice Dismal Swamp encompasses a canal, nationwide wildlife refuge, and a North Carolina state park. Finest recognized by boaters utilizing the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW), this hidden gem is commonly neglected by different vacationers.

A Place In Historical past

It’s believed people have lived right here for over 13,000 years, which speaks to the incredible abundance of pure sources discovered within the Nice Dismal Swamp. Maybe it was shortsightedness that brought about the early Europeans to first apply the unlucky identify “dismal.”

In reality, George Washington created a plan to empty the Dismal Swamp! However when it was decided that scheme was unlikely to be worthwhile, the land’s house owners selected constructing a canal to maneuver timber out of the forest.

The canal was dug by hand in horrible situations. However the information gained by enslaved individuals setting up the canal, and later by free black individuals hauling timber, led to the Nice Dismal Swamp turning into a refuge.

By the top of the Civil Warfare, communities of maroons (black people who freed themselves) had been dwelling on the best factors within the swamp. And historians and archaeologists are nonetheless studying about these outstanding individuals who carved out a life for themselves the place few dared go to.

READ MORE ⇒ Plan A Canine Pleasant Journey To The Outer Banks

Honey the dog on a free dock on the Great Dismal Swamp canal
Boaters can tie as much as free docks in a single day to allow them to discover the swamp.


The Nice Dismal Swamp was exploited for its pure sources till the early Nineteen Seventies when a portion of it turned a nationwide wildlife refuge. The positioning of the one pure peat beds in North America, the Dismal Swamp can be the supply of the purest ingesting water. Earlier than perfecting reverse osmosis, NASA deliberate to fill water tanks for the moon touchdown with water from Lake Drummond. The excessive tannin of the water retains it pure indefinitely.

With new protections from growth and exploitation, the vegetation and animals of the Dismal Swamp are flourishing. And there are a number of methods to discover it along with your pet!

Issues To Do

The Dismal Swamp provides loads of enjoyable for outdoorsy pets and their individuals.

Mountain climbing

The Dismal Swamp provides miles of pet pleasant mountain climbing trails — some within the nationwide wildlife refuge in Virginia, and the remainder within the state park in North Carolina.


You’ll discover pet pleasant trailheads on the following parking areas:

  • Jericho Ditch: 1330 White Marsh Highway, Suffolk, VA (flat grass path with ruts)
  • Washington Ditch: 3076 White March Highway, Suffolk, VA (flat, boardwalk path by means of woods)
  • Railroad Ditch (Wildlife Drive): 3120 Desert Highway, Suffolk, VA (flat, with crushed stone)
  • Portsmouth Ditch: 3457 Martin Johnson Highway, Chesapeake, VA (flat, with crushed stone)

READ MORE ⇒ Suggestions for Mountain climbing With Canine

Runner on trail in pet friendly Great Dismal Swamp State Park
Packed trails are good for working with a stroller. Different trails are extra rustic.


North Carolina

There are additionally a number of miles of trails you’ll be able to entry from the Nice Dismal Swamp State Park. The park opens the bridge throughout the canal so boats can go in a single day, so be sure you go away sufficient time to get again to the doorway earlier than closing!

My favourite path was the Boardwalk path going straight by means of the swamp. This path is in deep shade and has loads to see, though it’s only a 1/2 mile lengthy.

Honey the Golden Retriever dog on a pet friendly boardwalk trail in Great Dismal Swamp State Park
Boardwalk trails can help you expertise the swamp with out getting your ft (or paws) moist.


Most trails are open to bikers in addition to hikers.


Canal Path – Paved and closed to vehicles, this path follows the canal for over 8 miles and is ideal for bicycles.

The North trailhead is situated at Dominion Boulevard and Outdated Route 17.

North Carolina

Bikes are allowed on most trails within the North Carolina State Park. In case your pup likes to run by your facet, or when you’ve got a pet sufficiently small to journey in a backpack, you’ll be able to hire bicycles on the Dismal Swamp State Park Customer Heart.

Bikes on Dismal Swamp path
With miles of paved street closed to visitors, the Dismal Swamp canal path is nice for biking.



The safety of the canal offers calm paddling for kayaks or canoes.


Paddlers can use the small craft boat launch at 3825 Dismal Swamp Canal Path, Chesapeake, VA.

North Carolina

Your pet is welcome to affix you in the event you hire a kayak on the state park. Rangers level out that they’ve human life jackets, however you need to carry your individual on your pet.

READ MORE ⇒   Suggestions for Canoeing or Kayaking with Canine

Tips for Canoeing and Kayaking with Dogs |



The one tenting obtainable in your entire Dismal Swamp space is a primitive campground close to Lake Drummond. And it’s only accessible by shallow-draft boat (lower than 3 ft).

If you will get to it, you will discover fireplace pits, open grills, picnic tables, sheds with bug screens, and restrooms with non-potable water.

Two dogs hanging out in a green and white tent in a grassy field


In fact, my favourite method to discover the swamp is by boat!

Leisure boats can middle the canal on the Deep Creek Lock on the north finish or the South Mills Lock on the south finish. You’ll need to have a radio and contours on board which are a minimum of 20 ft lengthy to transit the locks. The lock masters will assist instruct you what to do.

The Dismal Swamp offers free in a single day dockage, on a first-come first-served foundation, at each locks, on the Douglas Highway free dock, and the Dismal Swamp Welcome Heart.

READ MORE ⇒ 5 Questions To Ask BEFORE Taking Your Canine On A Boat

Honey the Golden Retriever dog in the cockpit of a boat in the Dismal Swamp canal
Circumstances are so calm within the canal that Honey will get plenty of time to doze together with her favourite stick.


Know Earlier than You Go

So, what do you suppose? Are you excited to be the primary of your pals to take a look at the superb Nice Dismal Swamp?

Right here’s what it’s worthwhile to know earlier than visiting this area along with your pet:

  • You’ll see loads of nature within the space. That features bears. So hold your pets leashed.
  • It’s a swamp, so be ready for bugs. You’ll discover fewer within the spring and fall than in the summertime. And winter is your greatest wager for having fun with a bug-free go to.
  • If the primitive campground isn’t your factor, you’ll discover loads of pet pleasant lodging half-hour away in Chesapeake, Virginia.

EXPLORE MORE ⇒ Chesapeake Bay Loop – Pet Pleasant Villages, Seashores, and Excursions

Red and white boat passing through the Bascule Bridge in the Great Dismal Swamp
The lock grasp lifts the bridge so boats can go by means of.

If you happen to take pleasure in watching boaters as a lot as I loved being one, you’ll love the Dismal Swamp. And I wager your pet will, too!


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  1. You’re so awesome! I don’t believe I have read a single thing like that before. So great to find someone with some original thoughts on this topic.


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