I Would Want To Travel The Intracoastal Waterway...
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DISMAL SWAMP CANAL - an ICW Alternate Route

Last updated: Thursday, 12 June, 2014  


Dismal Swamp Canal


Ship's Log:

2014 Northbound

2014 Southbound



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Sights along the ICW
A foggy morning at Deep Creek Lock, the north end of the Dismal Swamp Canal.

Sights along the ICW
The lockmaster chatting with a boater locking through the Deep Creek Lock.

Sights along the ICW
Sometimes it's easier to pull your boat over the weir than wait for the railway.

Sights along the ICW
Lake Drummond, the lake feeding the feeder ditch for the Dismal Swamp Canal.

Sights along the ICW
Elizabeth City, NC The Harbor of Hospitality.

Treasure Travel is my new phrase. I just coined it. Feel free to use it. Treasure travel is similar to exotic travel or pleasure travel only this travel is well hidden. Only the most determined seekers discover it.  If you want to hide something, where is the best place to hide it? In plain view with an ordinary name. Something akin to labeling sirloin as liver in the freezer.

MY POINT: You don’t have to spend $1000s on airfare to find exotic travel. In the USA we have access to uncountable magnificent sites so beautiful that folks ‘over there’ spend $1000s on airfares to come over here and experience them.

With that said, here is the Dismal Swamp and its famous Dismal Swamp Canal.

We all remember learning about the Dismal Swamp in grade school though I wager most of us don’t remember *what* we learned. Fortunately, we don’t need to remember what we learned. Let’s go and discover!

Grab a kayak or a jon-boat or your friend’s forty-foot
catamaran. Throw off the lines and head to Deep Creek where you will find the northern lock of the canal.  Lock through - don’t worry, Robert-the-lock-master is there to do all the work. (Tell him I sent you).

Upon leaving the lock you will be in the famous Dismal Swamp Canal. I hope you remembered your charts and compass! Just kidding, you can’t get lost on the canal.

I am not going to describe all the points of interest or breathtaking sights. Suffice it to say: “still” “reflection” “horizon” “peaceful”.

After awhile you will pass a canal flowing into your canal. This is the ‘feeder ditch’ from whence the canal gets its water.  Follow it (unless you are in that friend’s forty-foot catamaran). It leads to Lake Drummond, the crowning jewel.

Lake Drummond is worth the side trip. At the far end of the feeder ditch is a teeny-weeny park with a teeny-weeny railway for hauling teeny-weeny boats over the teeny-weeny weir and into the lake.  The teeny-weeny railway is a teeny-weeny bit slow so Nearest-and-dearest ended up hauling our teeny-weeny boat over the grass to the other side. There we were greeted by the panoramic view of the beautiful and secretive Lake Drummond.

Back on the Dismal Swamp Canal you enter North Carolina and probably stop at the Welcome Center. The best buys are little painted turtles. Get one each and get back to cruising.

At the southern end of the canal is the South Mills Lock, leading into the Pasquotank River. The river snakes around through bald cypress and tupelo trees, wending its way to Elizabeth City, North Carolina.

Elizabeth City has a friendly waterfront. Boaters are often greeted by friendly Rose Buddies. The dock is free, the park is big, and there are several restaurants within walking distance.

Stay the night. This where your friend’s forty-foot catamaran comes into its own.

Now, do you return to Chesapeake via the canal? Or by making the loop through Coinjock and the Albemarle-Chesapeake Canal? OR…do you keep on southward to the next surprise treasure along our own exotic coast…

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