The Carolina "bays" are something of a natural mystery, with scientists unable to agree on exactly how these natural basins were formed. And while there are hundreds of bays in North Carolina, Lake Waccamaw is generally considered to be the most unique.
Covering more than 9,000 acres and with 14 miles of shoreline, the lake offers distinctive natural beauty and supports myriad species of wildlife. It's also home to a wonderful state park, which covers more than 2,200 acres along the lake's shoreline.
The best way to experience this diverse natural area is to take a stroll along the 700-foot boardwalk that reaches out across the shallow water. This is the perfect spot for wildlife viewing and fishing, and more than seven miles of trails let hikers immerse themselves in the natural environment. And with more than 50 fish species calling the lake home, anglers are spoiled for choice.
Boating is also popular at Lake Waccamaw State Park, but you'll need to head outside the park's boundaries to find a public boat launch. If you'd rather just sit back and relax, shaded picnic tables and grills provide the ideal spot for a scenic lunch.
Camping in the park is primitive, with five hike-in group sites (one of which is a yurt) to choose from. All sites feature pit toilets but no water or electricity, so you'll need to be happy to "ruff" it a little bit if you want to stay here.
Note that getting to the park may be a little tricky if you're using GPS. Be sure to look at the entire list of directions before setting off -- if the GPS takes you through the Green Swamp or down a dirt road, choose an alternative route. You may get stuck in the mud in the Green Swamp, and sticking to the paved roads is the best and fastest way to reach the park.
North Carolina state parks do not charge entrance fees, but you'll need to familiarize yourself with the camping fees that apply when planning your trip. Happily, dogs are welcome in Lake Waccamaw State Park, provided you follow a few simple rules. These include sticking to designated dog-friendly areas, keeping your pet leashed at all times, and cleaning up after your dog whenever necessary.
If you can do that, there's nothing to stop you having a grrr-eat time in this memorable and unique state park.