One of the fascinating aspects of Woods Bay State Park is the Carolina Bay, an elliptical depression of unknown origin. It’s one of the few remaining Carolina Bays in the Mid-Atlantic. I admit I expected to see the whole thing laid out in front of me, but I’d need an airplane to do that. Instead I got a close up look at one looks like.
The 1,590 acre park includes the bay, a shrub bog, marsh, oak-hickory forest and sandhills. If you have a canoe or kayak, you can bring that along or rent one to take the canoe trail. First check with the park to make sure there’s enough water. The trail’s one mail long and goes through part of the Carolina Bay. For hikers or pretty much anyone, there’s the Mill Pond Nature Trail and the boardwalk. Both are short and rated easy. The Mill Pond Nature trail takes one on a ¾ mile loop. The boardwalk goes through a cypress tupelo swamp. You might spot an alligator or two.
Carolina Bays are located throughout the Atlantic coastal plain and most are found in the Carolinas and Georgia. They range in size from less than an acre to several thousand acres. All are oriented in a northwest-southeast direction and there is usually a sand rim on the southeast edge. While no one knows how they were made there are plenty of theories including they came about from underground or underwater springs and meteorites.
The park is free to enter. Besides hiking and boating, one can go fishing here.
Be sure to bring your bug spray. I went late in fall and the mosquitoes were still quite active.
The park is located at 11020 Woods Bay Rd, Olanta
Take I-95 to exit #141. Go east on SC #53 a short distance, then turn right and go south on SC Rd 58 (Pudding Swamp Road). Turn left onto Woods Bay Road. The entrance will be on the right.
What’s Close By:
Lynches River S.P.
Longleaf Pine H.P.