South Carolina

Woods Bay State Park – Olanta, South Carolina

South Carolina  |  SC Picture Project  |  Florence County Photos  |  Woods Bay State Park

The coastal plain of South Carolina is home to mysterious geological formations known as Carolina Bays, though they also occur elsewhere along the east coast. The bays are elliptical-shaped depressions that possess diverse ecosystems, depending on their depth, size, elevation, and other factors. Though the bays’ origins are not determined, many scientists believe they were caused by limestone sinkholes, with wind patterns moving water within the depressions and creating their shape. Not only can visitors see these fascinating formations at Woods Bay State Park in Olanta, but they can witness some of the largest remaining Carolina Bays along the Atlantic seaboard.

Woods Bay Boardwalk

Karen Creel of Florence, 2016 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

The park encompasses 1,590 acres of ecological diversity, including sandhills, marshes, and evergreen shrub bogs. A boardwalk winds 1,150 feet through a cypress swamp, and canoeing, kayaking, and fishing are allowed within this gem of a state park. In fact, the park claims that the best way to experience the Carolina Bays at Woods Bay State Park is to paddle alongside them. A nature trail takes visitors three-quarters of a mile around a mill pond where two grist mills and a cotton gin once operated. The brick foundation of one of the mill structures remains visible.

Woods Bay Sign

Donna Edgeworth of Scranton, 2016 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Underground springs supply the bays with water, and several species of endangered plants and animals thrive within the park. American alligators are commonly spotted in the park, as the reptiles have found the perfect habitat of large, open waters teeming with food in the swamp and mill pond. Despite the below photo, alligators are typically viewed in the water from the boardwalk rather than on the boardwalk itself.

Woods Bay Alligator

Donna Edgeworth of Scranton, 2016 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Birding is a popular activity at Woods Bay State Park, with 81 bird species documented within the park to date. Picnic shelters are also available, making Woods Bay the perfect day trip destination for lovers of the outdoors. The property was acquired by the state for use as a park in 1973.

Reflections on Woods Bay State Park

Contributor Karen Creel says: “The boardwalk at Woods Bay State Park takes you on a journey through the swampy area near Olanta. Be on the lookout for alligators, as they roam freely around this park.”

Add your own reflections here.

Woods Bay State Park Info

Address: 1020 Woods Bay Road, Olanta, SC 29114
GPS Coordinates: 33.949454,-79.976145

Woods Bay State Park Map

Woods Bay State Park – Add Info and More Photos

The purpose of the South Carolina Picture Project is to celebrate the beauty of the Palmetto State and create a permanent digital repository for our cultural landmarks and natural landscapes. We invite you to add additional pictures (paintings, photos, etc) of Woods Bay State Park, and we also invite you to add info, history, stories, and travel tips. Together, we hope to build one of the best and most loved SC resources in the world!


The South Carolina Picture Project is a volunteer project which earns no profit. We work hard to ensure its accuracy, but if you see a mistake, please know that it is not intentional and that we are more than happy to update our information if it is incorrect. That said, our goal is to create something positive for our state, so please make your comments constructive if you would like them to be published. Thank you!

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