Dismal Swamp Canal Trail, Chesapeake

4.3
#3 of 17 in Things to do in Chesapeake
The Dismal Swamp Canal is located along the eastern edge of the Great Dismal Swamp in Virginia and North Carolina in the United States. It is the oldest continually operating man-made canal in the United States, opened in 1805, and closed in October 2016. It is part of the Intracoastal Waterway, an inland route, which parallels the east coast and offers boaters shelter from the Atlantic Ocean from Manasquan Inlet, New Jersey, to Brownsville, Texas. The route runs through bays, lakes, rivers, streams, and canals, and includes the Intracoastal Waterway running from Norfolk, Virginia, to the Florida Keys.
In the Colonial period, water transportation was the lifeblood of the North Carolina sounds region and the Tidewater areas of Virginia. The landlocked sounds were entirely dependent upon poor overland tracks or shipment along the treacherous Carolina coast to reach further markets through Norfolk, Virginia. In May 1763, George Washington made his first visit to the Great Dismal Swamp and suggested draining it and digging a north-south canal through it to connect the waters of the Chesapeake Bay in Virginia and Albemarle Sound in North Carolina. As the first president, Washington agreed with Virginia Governor Patrick Henry that canals were the easiest answer for an efficient means of internal transportation and urged their creation and improvement.
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Dismal Swamp Canal Trail Reviews
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TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 4.5
127 reviews
TripAdvisor
  • 8.5 miles from end to end. Rode out and back on a beautiful fall day. The widest trail I’ve ever seen since it was a former highway. Runs along the canal. Mostly shady and quiet for the first 5.5 mile...  more »
  • Visited on my way to NC to pick yo my daughter; near by rest stop up to date & very clean & user friendly.  more »

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