Lake Waccamaw State Park

This North Carolina State Park Features One Of The Famous Carolina Bays

Lake Waccamaw State Park originated in 1976 when the N.C. Division of Parks and Recreation purchased the first 273 acres of land. Today additional purchases have brought the park up to its present size of 1,732 acres. Lake Waccamaw in Columbus County, North Carolina is just one of the dozens of "Carolina Bays" which are found in that region.

The word bay doesn`t refer to water but rather to the fact that many bay trees grow along the shores of these oval shaped shallow depressions whose origins are still not certain. Many theories exist as to how they were formed, from meteor strikes to underground springs to the action of wind and waves, but no definitive answer has ever been reached.

Many of the Carolina Bays are just covered in vegatation, few of them contain water. The majority of the bays are about 500 feet long. Lake Waccamaw is different and is probably the most unique of all the bays that are lakes. It is large, covering over 9,000 acres of land and having a shoreline of 14 miles.

Lake Waccamaw State Park

The bays that do contain water generally support very little life because the water has such a high level of acidity. Lake Waccamaw however, has some limestone cliffs along its north shore which neutralize the water and allows it to support abundant life. But like the other Carolina Bay lakes the water color is still very dark and not at all clear.

Lake Waccamaw State Park is adjacent to a 15,700 acre nature preserve calle the Green Swamp. This ecologically important area is home to hundreds of varieties of plants and animals. Within the swamp lives the American Alligator and the Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake to name just two interesting and deadly species!

Green Swamp was once the site of an extensive logging operation. Many of the local Cypress trees were felled and millions of wooden shingles were manufactured. They were then shipped across the lake and transported to the nearest railyard. In time it was eventually decided to lay a branch rail line to the west of the lake. After the logging ceased the line was just left and its remains can stiil be discovered.

The nature of the water in Lake Waccamaw has led to some species which are found nowhere else in the world. Endemic fish such as the Waccamaw Silverside, Waccamaw Darter and Waccamaw Killifish are totally unique. As are two unusual molluscs, the Waccamaw Fatmucket and the Waccamaw Spike.

Piers On Lake Waccamaw

For people wanting to visit the park and enjoy the wonderful surroundings there are four primitive campgrounds which feature picnic tables, fire pit and toilets. There are four hiking trails, the Lakeshore Trail is the longest stretching five miles and passing along the shores of Lake Waccamaw and through forests of hickory, cypress and pine.

There is a 700 foot long boardwalk which ends at a pier which reaches 375 feet into the lake and is a wonderful place to spend a few quiet hours fishing. The lake has been well stocked with largemouth bass, bluegill and sunfish.

Sunset On Lake Waccamaw

Boating is very popular at the lake even though there are no boat launches within the park area. However, there are two closeby which are available. One is operated by the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission (WRC) and the other by Columbus County.

Educational programs are regularly scheduled by the parks and run for students and others who wish to learn more about the unique ecosystem of Lake Waccamaw.

Here is a map of Lake Waccamaw State Park showing all the trails and other facilities.

If you want to make a reservation, or discover more about any of the other N.C. State Parks then this is a wonderful resource.

Here is the address and contact details for the park -

Lake Waccamaw State Park
1866 State Park Drive
Lake Waccamaw
NC 28450

GPS Coordinates

Phone - (910) 646-4748 or
(910) 646-1843

email -

Here is a North Carolina County Map with the position of Lake Waccamaw indicated with a star.

position of lake waccamaw

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