Lake Waccamaw, named after the region's tribal natives, is the largest of the Carolina Bays and is 38 miles from Wilmington in Columbus County. It wasn't until the age of aviation that thousands of the elliptical depressions known as Carolina Bays were noticed dotting the Carolinas' coastal plain. All the depressions are oriented along northwest-southeast axes. Locals came to call them Bays, referring to the abundance of bay trees — red, sweet and loblolly — that flourish there. There are four hiking trails in the park, and the longest, the Lakeshore Trail, passes through a variety of ecosystems during its five-mile course. Fishing and boating are also popular pastimes in the park. While there is no boat access in the park, there are two free public boat launches nearby. The lake is stocked with largemouth bass, bluegill, shellcracker and redbreast sunfish. Campers have four shaded primitive group camping sites to choose from. With picnic tables, fire circles and pit toilets located close by, all the basics for a fun camping trip are on site; however, all supplies, including water, must be packed in for camping. Organized groups are encouraged to make reservations, but all campsites are available on a first-come basis. Campers simply have to register with the visitor's center for a permit. To be assured you have a camp site, you can make reservations at least 48 hours in advance by calling 1-877-722-6762.
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