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Jones Lake is one of the shallowest of the Bladen County lakes. It has a depth of only 8.7 feet and a shoreline of approximately 2.2 miles. The lake is approximately 8,000 feet long and is an example of a large water-filled Carolina Bay. It forms the core of Jones Lake State Park 4.5 miles north of Elizabethtown. The southeastern side of the bay contains a sand rim which supports a general recreation area and campsites. Visitors can explore the densely vegetated bay bog area of this Carolina Bay by walking along the nature trail along the lake's perimeter.

During the time of segregation in North Carolina, there were actually two park systems, one for the whites and one for the blacks. Jones Lake is a blackwater lake, with the water the color of tea from the leaching plant materials was for the black community. The lake still is frequently used for baptisms, church functions, and community gatherings. White Lake State Park, which is about 5 miles away, was for the white community. Its lake contains clear uncolored water because it is fed from springs on the lake bottom.

A result of the dual park system is that Jones Lake has remained undeveloped, and is really a treasure as it has two intact Carolina Bays, Salter Lake and Jones Lake. White Lake has a lot of development and building around the perimeter.

Some features that you may encounter at Jones Lake include:

Carolina Bays

The Carolina Bays are oval-shaped depressions concentrated in the coastal plains of the southeastern United States, but occurring along the Atlantic Coastal Plain from southern New Jersey to northern Florida. The nearly 500,000 bays first came to the attention of geologists in 1884 when Dr. L.C. Glenn proposed that the depressions may have been formed by the eastward retreat of the ocean.

In 1932, Melton and Schriever proposed a new hypothesis to explain the origin of the numerous, similarly shaped, and S50°E aligned depressions. They suggested that the small oval basins and their rims were formed many years ago by a meteor shower on dry land. The hypothesis was supported by the discovery that there were highly magnetic areas concentrated in the southeastern portions of the bays The meteor origins hypothesis attracted attention worldwide. Geologists and physical geographers rallied to support or refute the new hypothesis.

In 1934, C. Wythe Cooke proposed that the Carolina Bays were aligned due the consistency in the direction of the wind while they were being formed. The elliptical sand ridges that accompany the bays were thus bars and beaches that were built up in shallow lagoons when sea levels were higher.

Additional hypotheses were put forth in the late 1930s and in the 1940s that suggested that the Carolina Bays were the result of artesian springs rising through moving ground water.

The true origins of the Carolina Bays remain controversial and a mystery to this day.
In the past, nearly all of the bays contained open water. In the present day, most of the Carolina Bays are filled with organic soils and overgrown with wetland vegetation. Water in most bay lakes is highly acidic and dark in color due to the decomposing plant matter at the lake bottom.
The few relict bay lakes that remain are quite small and shallow. They range from 8 to 12 feet in depth and generally measure less than 500 feet in length. Of the small number of remaining larger bays, several form the core of a state park.




  • Richards, Horace G. 1950 Geology of the Coastal Plain of North Carolina. Philadelphia: The American Philosophical Society
  • J. Wright Horton Jr. and Victor A. Zullo (Eds.) 1994. The Geology of the Carolinas. Knoxville: The University of Tennessee Press.