Bay Carolina Klaus LOWA McBee Schachtner South State Park Sumpf Woods Bay

Tour: Woods Bay State Park Submersing yourself in a Carolina bay, one of South Caro­lina’s natural wonders

Start of the tour:
The car park at Woods Bay State Park
End of the tour:
The car park at Woods Bay State Park
01:00 hours
0 km
Sturdy footwear, hiking clothes

Woods Bay is found near Olanta, a site that is located in the central-eastern region of South Carolina. At about 640 hectares in size, it is one of the very last surviving large Carolina bays, a true geological wonder. The mystical Carolina bays are elliptical to circular depressions along the Atlantic seaboard that may look a little strange when viewed from above. Researchers think that the bays are actually ther­mokarst lakes that can foster a wide range of vegetation structures depending on the subsidence depth, size, hydrology and subsoil and are therefore rich in biod­iversity.

You only have to take a short stroll to realise that you have just entered one of nature’s wonders. You see blazing bursts of green everywhere you look, and all layers of the forest are overgrown – partially with lianas. You feel as if you are in a jungle that melds four different types of plant communities: evergreen brushwood-covered moors, cypress-tupelo swamps, sedge marshland and sandy rims. The area is home to alligators, herons and osprey as well as carni­vorous lenti­bu­lariaceae and nepenthes. The stillness of the place is broken up by the strange calls of birds and the sound of dripping water. The water-filled area is dotted by swamp cypresses, trees that use their downward-sloping “knees” to help to stabilise them­selves in the mud and ventilate their underwater roots. These mini-islands often serve as the home of water tupelo trees whose powerful and fresh green colour contrasts sharply with the blackness of the area’s water. We even saw a blueberry bush brimming with ripe fruit on one of the islands. The best way to see everything that Woods Bay has to offer is by kayak.