Parks, Playgrounds, & Natural Areas
Carolina Bay Nature Preserve
Hours of operation: Sunrise to Sunset
- Foot trails – Upper trail is 2560 feet (0.48 mile – approximately 2 laps = one mile); the lower trail is 1611 feet (0.31 mile – approximately 3 laps = one mile)
- Observation Deck
- Climbing Wall
- No camping
- No swimming
- Please use caution and watch for poison ivy.
Come and walk our trails, watch wildlife, or just enjoy the pleasure of the woods and water that are only a few yards from Whiskey Road. This is a city facility with a difference: a natural wetland with minimal improvements and maximum tranquility.
Not a bay in the usual sense, Carolina Bays are oval or roughly circular depressions that are common in the lower elevations of the Carolinas. Their origins are uncertain; meteorite impacts and a variety of geological phenomena have been suggested. They tend to collect water and often develop communities of plants and animals that are not typical of the surrounding area.
Our bay is not undisturbed and even the bay itself was farmed for many years. Streets and other developments around it affect water flow into the bay and the City has installed pumps to keep water from overflowing into nearby neighborhoods. The bay supports a wide variety of wildlife and volunteers have restored the more natural Carolina Bay flora.
This nature reserve was saved from development by the work and financial contributions of members of the Aiken Land Conservancy, formerly the Aiken County Open Land Trust.
The bay has a wide variety of wildlife. An increasing variety of birds are now being seen at the bay including wood ducks, Canadian Geese, Red Tail Hawks and Mississippi Kites. Other wildlife includes frogs, turtles, salamanders, raccoons and squirrels.
Blue flowered Pickeral Weed and other vegetation from the Savannah River Ecology Lab have been planted along the shoreline. These plants are typical of Carolina Bays, but were lost when the bay was under cultivation. A wildflower meadow near the old farm house was planted by local students to provide some additional color in the open area on the west side of the bay.
Cautions: The water is shallow, but deep enough for small children to get into trouble. Poison ivy and briars are common in the woods! Poisonous snakes are very unlikely in this urban area, but not impossible. Be aware that in wet weather our trails will be muddy in spots.
Please respect the reserve and leave it as you found it and give any wildlife a wide berth, so that any prospective residents are not disturbed. Discarding trash in the park and damaging the plants and trail diminishes everyone’s pleasure!