Covering 9,000 acres and with 14 miles of shoreline, Lake Waccamaw is one of the largest remaining Carolina bays. It’s unlike other bays, too, in the sense that while most bays rely entirely on rainwater to refresh, Lake Waccamaw also gets water from the Friar Swamp drainage. If you’re looking to hone your backpacking skills, Lake Waccamaw is a good option. With 7 miles of trail and its proximity to the biologically diverse Green Swamp Preserve, Lake Waccamaw makes an especially good winter escape.

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Getting there from downtown Wilmington
Address: 1866 State Park Dr.
City: Lake Waccamaw
State: N.C.
Zip: 28450
Distance: 1 hour from downtown Wilmington
Latitude: 34.2789
Longitude: 78.4654
No. of campsites: 4
No. with hookups: None
No. without hookups: None
Primitive sites: 4
Reservations? Yes. 877.722.6762
Cost: $13
Year-round? Yes
Gate hours: Open daily at 8 a.m., closes at 6 p.m. November-February; 8 p.m. March, April, September and October; 9 p.m. May-August.
Stuff to do nearby: fishing, hiking, paddling