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North Carolina

North Carolina State Parks

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North Carolina
Coastal - Eastern Region
Jones Lake State Park
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4117 North Carolina 242
Elizabethtown, North Carolina   28337
(lat:34.6832 lon:-78.5959) map location

Phone: 910-588-4550
Reservations: 877-722-6762
Email: park email button icon
Venture to Jones Lake State Park and view one of the greatest geological mysteries of the eastern United States?the phenomenon of the Carolina bays. Adjacent to the Bladen Lakes State Forest and home of two natural lakes, Jones and Salters lakes, the 2,208-acre park is a nature lover's delight. Peaceful surroundings and a variety of facilities, including a trail with several outlooks that circles Jones Lake, make this state park a favorite for hiking, picnicking, swimming, fishing and camping.

Park hours:

November-February, 8 a.m.-6 p.m.

March and October, 8 a.m.-7 p.m.

April, May, September, 8 a.m.-8 p.m.

June-August, 8 a.m.-9 p.m.

Closed Christmas Day

Park office hours:

8 a.m.-5 p.m. weekdays

Closed state holidays
History of the Area
The bay lakes region of Bladen County was settled during colonial times. Jones Lake was known as Woodward's Lake for Samuel Woodward, a justice of the peace in the mid-1700s. The lake was later renamed for Isaac Jones, a landowner who donated a tract of land on which Elizabethtown was established in 1773. Salters Lake received its name from Sallie Salter, a Revolutionary War heroine who spied on the Tories encamped in town.

For approximately 100 years after the area was settled, landowners practiced farming along the river lowlands and creek bottoms. Longleaf pines, then prolific in the area, were used for the production of naval stores, primarily providing turpentine, pitch and timber. Due to the growth of the turpentine, lumber and cotton industries, the area's human population soon increased beyond the soil's capacity to support it. However, by 1935, with the fall of the cotton farmer and the exhaustion of industry, large segments of the population found themselves on submarginal land.

The economic circumstances of the thirties were a trying time for the country. In order to create jobs, the federal government poured millions of dollars into conservation. For state parks, these federal assistance programs created a tremendous amount of development and acquisition, giving the park system its impetus.

The federal government purchased submarginal farm lands in the Jones Lake area at an average cost of $4.51 per acre, and the Resettlement Administration managed the area from 1936-1939. In order to stimulate the depressed economy, a program of land conservation and utilization began. With local materials and talents, the Resettlement Administration developed a recreation center at Jones Lake. A large bathhouse, beach, refreshment stand and picnic grounds were constructed.

The property was turned over to the state of North Carolina on July 1, 1939, for operation under a lease agreement. In October, 1954, the land was given to the state by the federal government. Jones Lake opened in the summer of 1939 as the first state park for blacks and achieved immediate popularity. In later years the park, like all other North Carolina parks, became fully integrated.

Besides serving as a source of recreation, the park has played other important roles in the area's history. During World War II, Jones Lake was open only for picnicking and fishing while the area was used by the Anti-Aircraft School from Camp Davis for special training programs. In the spring of 1970, the area achieved prominence when astronomers gathered there to view a total eclipse of the sun.
Jones Lake State Park has 20 campsites for family camping. Each wooded site is equipped with a picnic table and grill. Drinking water and restrooms with showers are located nearby. One site has electrical and water hookups and is available for both tents and recreational vehicles. However, the park does not offer a dump station for recreational vehicles. Campsites are available on a first-come basis. The park campground is open March 15 through November.

Group camping: A primitive group campsite, available for organized groups, is open year round. The site includes a fire circle and grill, picnic tables, benches and a pit toilet. Water is also available. The site is available by reservation only, and reservations must be made at least one week in advance. No more than 20 people can occupy the site.
Take advantage of the aquatic activities offered by this cool, tea-colored lake. The sandy beach of Jones Lake is ideal for sunbathing, and the shallow water is a swimmer's delight. A fee is charged for swimming from Memorial Day through Labor Day. A concession stand and bathhouse are located nearby. A pier provides access for swimming and rental boats.

A road to the lake for small craft is located at the west side of the picnic area. The access road ends at the lakeshore, and only motors that are 10 horsepower and under are allowed on the lake. Canoes and paddleboats may be rented from Memorial Day through Labor Day at the boathouse adjacent to the pier. Salters Lake is undeveloped, and permission to use the lake must be obtained from park staff.
Few fish species are present due to the water's acidity. Yellow perch are the most abundant; chain pickerel, catfish, chub suckers and blue-spotted sunfish also occupy the lakes. Pier fishing is allowed only from the lake trail access points.

Jones Lake State Park is located near Elizabethtown, Fayetteville and Hope Mills

A picnic is a great way to enjoy a day out-of-doors. More than 50 tables and 15 grills are available at the picnic grounds. A grassy area, also available for picnicking, is adjacent to the beach where the shade of pine and cypress trees promises respite from the sun. The covered picnic shelter, perfect for a large gathering, will accommodate up to 100 people. Use of the picnic shelter is free of charge unless reservations are requested.
Lake Trail is a three-mile loop around Jones Lake, offering an excellent chance to experience the habitats of a Carolina bay. Wander through dense vegetation and over boggy soil to view lovely lakeside flora. Large pond cypress trees, draped with Spanish moss, line the shore and grow in the shallow water. Leatherwood plants with delicate white flowers, also called titi, overhang the water's edge. Several short side-trails lead to the lake, allowing hikers a chance to catch their breath while viewing the vista across the lake. Begin Lake Trail at the picnic area or campground. For trail interpretation, contact park staff.

The park also has a one-mile nature trail. The loop journeys through both the bay forest and sand ridge communities.
Nature Programs
Rangers hold regularly scheduled educational and interpretive programs about Jones Lake State Park.

To arrange a special exploration of Jones Lake State Park for your group or class, contact the park office.

Educational materials about Jones Lake State Park have been developed for grades 6-8 and are correlated to North Carolina's competency-based curriculum in science, social studies, mathematics and English/language arts. The Jones Lake program introduces students to the unique geology of Carolina bays. Accompanying the program is a teacher's booklet and workshop, free of charge to educators.

Visitor Comments, Memories and Reviews
August 15 by Breeze5
park review stars; one to five I enjoyed my time there caught site of the perseids meteor shower. I stayed at campsite 15 which was beautiful but 1/2 the site was a swamp due to the amount of rain this month.I just would have liked to have been notified about my site.
January 10 Wonderful area for mountain biking by Randy
park review stars; one to five Few places around match this place for beauty and the Jones Lake Bay Trail is great for mountain biking (cycling). Friendly staff. Love it.
June 1 Great park for birding
park review stars; one to five Excellent park for hiking and birding in the spring. Saw many warblers.
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Jones Lake State Park is located in Bladen County, four miles north of Elizabethtown on Highway 242.

To reach the park from Wilmington, drive west on US 74/76. Turn right onto NC 87 and travel north toward Elizabethtown. Turn right onto NC 87 Business. At the second light, turn right onto US 701. Travel north for one mile and take a left onto NC 53. Take an immediate right onto NC 242. Drive north for two miles. The park entrance, indicated by a large sign, will be on the left.

To arrive at Jones Lake from Fayetteville, drive east on NC 53 for approximately 40 miles, take a left onto NC 242 and travel north. The park entrance, marked with a large sign, is two miles on the left.

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North Carolina State Parks