Scenic USA - North Carolina

Dismal Swamp Canal State Park

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Dismal Swamp Canal - South Mills, North Carolina

Photos by Ben Prepelka
Scenic USA Artist Website

     Even though the name Dismal Swamp sounds very unappealing, visitors at the state park welcome center soon find out about this geological wonder and why George Washington called it a glorious paradise. Found at the Gateway to Northeastern North Carolina, the Dismal Swamp Canal State Park is the only visitor center on both a major highway and historic waterway. Just three miles from the Virginia-North Carolina border, the park offers recreational ideas that range from 15 miles of hiking and biking trails, to kayaking and canoeing on the 22 mile Dismal Swamp Canal. Covering 14,000 acres, the park is home to countless wildlife species, including marsh rabbits, white-tail deer, black bear, grey fox, warblers, and the barred owl.
     Logging, beginning in George Washington's time, has gradually changed the swamp's ecosystem. The swamp was drained, and canals were cut to move vast areas of bald cypress and Atlantic white cypress trees. Welcome Center - Dismal Swamp Canal State Park, North Carolina As logging roads cut off the natural water flow, water loving trees were replaced with red maples and white cedar. The first canal, completed in the late 1700s and financed in part by George Washington, is often referred to as the Washington Ditch.
     Today, the Dismal Swamp Welcome Center is open all year and features a 150 foot dock, a picnic area, a 2000 foot boardwalk and a unique hydraulic arm bridge. This pedestrian bridge allows access to the visitorís center and exhibition hall. Canoes, kayaks and bikes are available for rent for a close-up Dismal Swamp experience.

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