Biking on the Dismal Swamp Canal Trail

With our new bike rack, our biking world has opened up.  So why did we go someplace dismal for our first out of the neighborhood bike ride? Mainly because the Dismal Swamp is misnamed and is really quite lovely.  Plus it’s only a couple miles from where we live in Chesapeake.



The Dismal Swamp was discovered in the late 1600s and immediately got the attention of men who wanted to exploit it for logging.  They needed a way to get the logs to market, so they hired George Washington to survey it.

For many years, a two lane road ran parallel to the canal.  It led from Chesapeake into North Carolina and was notorious as a treacherous route.  A new four lane road was finally built, and the old road was turned into the trail.

As you can see, it's very straight and flat

As you can see, it’s very straight and flat

The Trail is a straight 8.5 miles one way, so it’s great for biking, walking, even horseback riding.  It’s rarely crowded, so it’s good for kids learning to ride a bike.  Our trek was only a couple of miles as a hurricane was heading in our direction (Alfred, which was a big nothing).

The Dismal Swamp is host to a lot of black bears, but I’ve never seen one along the trail. I have seen a snake or two along the way.

The odds are slight you'll see one, but you'll know what to do if you see one.

The odds are slight you’ll see one, but you’ll know what to do if you see one.

So if you’re looking for an easy ride or walk, give the Dismal Swamp Canal Trail a try.

The Dismal Swamp

Dismal Swamp Canal Trail

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2 Responses to Biking on the Dismal Swamp Canal Trail

  1. Laura says:

    Just went in a 10-mile bike ride and had a great time. We stopped for a picnic lunch on the way back and looked hard for black bears but didn’t see any.


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