These elliptical depressions were once located throughout the Atlantic coastal plain mostly in the Carolinas and Georgia. They can be very large – thousands of acres – or very small – less than 1 acre – and are typically rimmed by sand.
There are no real answers as to how these geographical features formed. Theories range from meteorites to underground springs, which is what provides the water for Woods Bay.
The bays provide a range of habitats from swamps to sandhills for a variety of wildlife, including alligators, and plant life.
You can explore this 1,600-acre park on land or water.
For walking, the three-quarter-mile nature trail around the mill pond and a 1,100-foot boardwalk provide views of alligators in the cypress-tupelo swamp.
The canoe trail, about a mile, will take you through a portion of the bay. But the water levels fluctuate markedly during the year, so it’s best to call ahead, (843) 659-4445, if you want to paddle. Also, outside boats are not allowed in the bay, but you can rent one there for $14 a day or $7 for a half-day.
A nature center provides information about the park. The park is located at 11020 Woods Bay Road, Olanta, and is open 9 a.m.-6 p.m. daily. Admission is free.