Hike the Nature Trail at Woods Bay State Park

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What exactly is a Carolina Bay? Scientists still aren't sure but you check one out at Woods Bay State Park in South Carolina.

Carolina Bays go by different names. In the Mid Atlantic they're known as Maryland Basins or Delmarva Bays. Sometimes they're generically referred to as pocosins, an Algonquin word for "swamp on a hill." But these elliptical depressions don't always contain bodies of water; instead they derive their names from the kinds of trees most commonly found within them. 

Scientists still aren't exactly sure what event formed the thousands of Carolina Bays that dot the east coast--there are multiple theories that include everything from glacial movement and climate change to a comet's impact or a meteorite shower. Regardless, Carolina Bays are characterized by the following:

- Symmetrical, elliptical shape
- Northwest-southeast orientation
- Parallel axes
- Raised sand rims
- Depressed interior surfaces
- Different interior and surrounding soils
- Relatively shallow depths
- Flat sandy bottoms beneath interior fill
(per SCDNR

and from above they look like perfect, parallel eggs. So cool. 

If you've never heard of a Carolina Bay, or never been to one, Woods Bay State Park is great place to start. The nature trail here is just a mile, but the boardwalk spur offers the opportunity to walk out into the middle of the water, where cypress tannin has stained the shallow water a rich, dark hue. 

There is also a water trail here as well as canoes and kayaks for rent. Oh--and watch out for the alligators. 

Within an hour's drive there are several more Carolina Bays to pique your curiosity. And if swampy, cypress forests are your thing, do not miss nearby Lake Juniper or Congaree National Park.

Pack List

  • Camera
  • Waterproof boots
  • Bug Spray and Sunscreen
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RT Distance 1 Miles
Activities Canoeing, Photography, Kayaking, Hiking
Skill Level Beginner
Season Year Round
Trail Type Loop
Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Family Friendly


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