Lakes & Rivers
Jones Lake State Park And The Carolina Bay Phenomenon
Although scientists still debate the origin of Carolina bays, they remain one of the greatest geological mysteries of the eastern United States. Jones Lake State Park in Elizabethtown, North Carolina is a prime example of this fascinating phenomenon. Adjacent to the Turnbull Creek State Forest, this 2,208-acre park and nature lover’s delight is home to two natural lakes, Jones and Salters lakes. The park has become a favorite for hiking, picnicking, swimming, fishing and camping. A variety of available facilities provide minor comforts without encroaching on the all-natural experience. Of course, peaceful surroundings are a draw too, like the three-mile trail circling Jones Lake, which features several look out points.
With the placid waters of Jones Lake at your disposal, boating and fishing are a given. You won’t find any yachts here, just the 10 horsepower and under crowd are permitted. Canoes and paddleboats are available for rent from Memorial Day to Labor Day for those who wish to quietly careen through the water.
When temperatures rise, the cool, tea-colored waters of Jones Lake invite an abundance of aquatic activities, and its sandy beach is ideal for soaking up those warm golden rays.
Searching for a quiet place to eat and revel in the beauty of the outdoors? Look no further than the more than 50 tables and eight grills available at the picnic grounds. There is also a grassy area to enjoy an old-fashioned blanket picnic under the shade of the pine tree canopy. In addition, a covered picnic shelter can accommodate up to 150 of your nearest and dearest for that long awaited reunion or get together.
If you find that the temperate climate at Jones Lake State Park brings out the hibernating adventurer in you, check out Lake Trail. This three-mile loop allows you to experience Carolina bay habitats and provides dense vegetation to wander through with lovely views of lakeside flora. Need to catch your breath? Several short side-trails offer a respite with views of the vista across the lake.
The warm conditions maintained by Jones Lake attract a variety of reptiles. In fact, on a sunny Carolina day, you can catch a glimpse of Carolina anoles and fence lizards basking in the rays.
Springtime bird watchers flock here for the commoners such as Carolina wrens, chickadees and black vultures. A visit to the bog might provide a glimpse of a yellow-throated warbler or white-eyed vireo. Endangered species – pileated woodpecker, red-tailed hawk and red cockaded woodpecker – also find refuge here.
While enjoying the melodies of songbirds, the eagle eyed may spot elusive park inhabitants like the wild turkey, white-tailed deer, fox or cottontail rabbit.
Visitors can choose a one-day visit to the park, but why not take advantage of the 20 campsites available for overnight and extended stays? Each campsite includes a picnic table and grill with drinking water, restrooms and nearby showers. There is only one site available with electrical and water hookups, so act fast! Also, a primitive group campsite is available for organized groups.
Come rough it in North Carolina’s Jones Lake State Park and experience the glory of the Carolina Bay phenomenon.
added: December 29, 2008
updated: January 2, 2009