Full of history and dense hidden secrets it’s still the quite beauty of Virginia. Each year I try to take at least one boat ride to the amazing Lake Drummond. Situated miles back within the center of the Great Dismal Swamp the lake’s access is very limited and often left to only the true adventure seeker.
Access can be obtained off route 17 by canoe, kayak or boat. Several miles up the feeder ditch a rail car waits beside a spillway to lift your boat to the higher level of the lake. Boat motors are limited in size to nothing more than a nine point nine horsepower. The feeder ditch to Lake Drummond is almost worth the trip by itself. As you pass down the narrow waterway of the feeder ditch black marble like water reflects mirrored images of lush green trees, vines, and honey suckles.
A quite advance down the waterway often offers a glimpse of a heron hunting fish or a single snake crossing from side to side. A short stop to drop a fishing line in the water may find a sharp pull under low lying tree limbs. The end result is most often dark colored crappies or green colored mud catfish tainted by the abundant cypress roots.
An occasional stretch of lily pads narrows the main water way as you move closer to a spillway which empties water from Lake Drummond. The current from the spillway picks up speed as it churns the water into a foamy mixture of white rolling bubbles which returns back to blackness as the turning water levels out to a slow creeping movement downstream.
A rough camping area is positioned next to the spillway. Several screened in rooms for camping give you an indication of the tremendous amount of insects which can be experienced at nightfall. The surrounding area is extremely beautiful and peaceful especially when you get the opportunity to explore it alone. From the camping area to the lake a small narrow waterway filled with floating logs and low lying limbs leads the way to the main entrance of the lake.
When entering Lake Drummond the size is truly amazing and you notice right away that it resembles almost a perfect circle. On a sunny day the sky can appear so interesting you feel as if you’re noticing it for the first time. Its overwhelming vastness covers the lake in incredible blue shades and the edges touch an infinity of green tree tops which completely surround the water. White clouds appear as another upside down world on the black water as they advance across the brilliant blue sky. A few cypress trees still stand alone within the open lake while forested areas space out short distances from each other along the edges of the lake.
A warning to everyone when taking a trip to Lake Drummond make sure you choose a calm sunny day for your trip. Wind can change the incredible smooth surface of the lake quickly from something of relaxation and calmness to a very unpleasant and threatening day. I would also advise to skip the trip on a foggy day as the exit to the lake can be very difficult to find due to the size of the lake and the small entrance.
For those who can’t make the trip by water a visitor center on route 17 offers hiking trails in the swamp and a fun educational experience for kids. Home to bobcats, deer, plentiful bear, turkeys, coyotes, and just about anything that creeps and crawls. I've attached several links for more information about Lake Drummond and The Great Dismal Swamp
Here’s a link to the visitor center off route 17
For entry to the swamp from Suffolk, Virginia:
Other interesting links about the Great Dismal Swamp: