LAKE WACCAMAW STATE PARK
The cool, tea-colored waters at first appear similar to other lakes in the area, but Lake Waccamaw is one of the most unique bodies of water in the world. You will find here species of animals found nowhere else on the planet, rare plants and endangered animals.
At Lake Waccamaw, you can view one of the greatest geological mysteries of the eastern United States?the phenomenon of Carolina bays. Limestone bluffs along the north shore neutralize Lake Waccamaw's water, making the lake different from any other Carolina Bay. Nearby, you can catch a glimpse of a botanical wonder?the Green Swamp.
From its sandy shorelines to its tree-lined natural areas, Lake Waccamaw offers peaceful surroundings, an intriguing natural history and fun in the sun.
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. daily
Closed state holidays
John Bartram, the nation's first renowned botanist, once described Lake Waccamaw as "the pleasantest place I ever saw." But he was not the first to find this paradise.
Archaeologists have discovered evidence of civilization at Lake Waccamaw dating back thousands of years, in addition to artifacts from the Waccamaw-Siouan tribes. In 1797, the state deeded 170,120 acres of the Green Swamp to Stephen Williams, Benjamin Rowell and William Collins for little more than $7,000. A portion of the land was drained for agricultural use, but in 1904 the property was purchased for timbering.
Lumber companies produced cypress shingles and shipped them by boat across Lake Waccamaw for transport by mule to the nearby train station. Logging and shingle transportation eventually became rail-based, and a line was laid along the west side of the lake. Remnants of the railway bridge crossing can still be seen today.
State government interest in the bay lakes emerged in the early 1800s when legislation blocked further private claims on land covered by lake waters. Later, the General Assembly declared that any lake of 500 acres or more in Bladen, Columbus or Cumberland counties shall remain the property of the state.
In October of 1964, the Board of Conservation and Development tried to obtain land on the lakeshore to establish a state park. But it wasn't until May of 1976 that a state park was formed on the lake when a 273-acre tract of land was purchased by the N.C. Division of Parks and Recreation. Additional land purchases for the park in the mid-1980s, including acreage formerly belonging to the Federal Paper Company and Georgia-Pacific Corporation, helped bring the park to its present size of 1,732 acres.
The adventuresome camper will find plenty to enjoy at Lake Waccamaw's four primitive group camping areas nestled beneath the trees. Picnic tables, fire circles and pit toilets are located nearby. All supplies, including drinking water, must be packed to the sites.
Organized groups may make reservations. Otherwise, campsites are available on a first-come basis. Register at the visitor's center for a camping permit.
Boating is a popular pastime at Lake Waccamaw. There is no boat access in the park, but two free public boat launch areas are available nearby. One is maintained by the NC Wildlife Resources Commission (WRC) while the other is operated by Columbus County. Powerboats and sailboats may be launched from the boat ramps, but parking is limited. Lake Waccamaw is park property; all park rules apply.
Fifty-two species of game and non-game fish swim in Lake Waccamaw. The WRC stocks the lake with largemouth bass, bluegill, shellcracker and redbreast sunfish. All regulations of the WRC are enforced.