JONES LAKE STATE PARK
Venture to Jones Lake State Park and view one of the greatest geological mysteries of the eastern United States?the phenomenon of the Carolina bays. Adjacent to the Bladen Lakes State Forest and home of two natural lakes, Jones and Salters lakes, the 2,208-acre park is a nature lover's delight. Peaceful surroundings and a variety of facilities, including a trail with several outlooks that circles Jones Lake, make this state park a favorite for hiking, picnicking, swimming, fishing and camping.
November-February, 8 a.m.-6 p.m.
March and October, 8 a.m.-7 p.m.
April, May, September, 8 a.m.-8 p.m.
June-August, 8 a.m.-9 p.m.
Closed Christmas Day
Park office hours:
8 a.m.-5 p.m. weekdays
Closed state holidays
The bay lakes region of Bladen County was settled during colonial times. Jones Lake was known as Woodward's Lake for Samuel Woodward, a justice of the peace in the mid-1700s. The lake was later renamed for Isaac Jones, a landowner who donated a tract of land on which Elizabethtown was established in 1773. Salters Lake received its name from Sallie Salter, a Revolutionary War heroine who spied on the Tories encamped in town.
For approximately 100 years after the area was settled, landowners practiced farming along the river lowlands and creek bottoms. Longleaf pines, then prolific in the area, were used for the production of naval stores, primarily providing turpentine, pitch and timber. Due to the growth of the turpentine, lumber and cotton industries, the area's human population soon increased beyond the soil's capacity to support it. However, by 1935, with the fall of the cotton farmer and the exhaustion of industry, large segments of the population found themselves on submarginal land.
The economic circumstances of the thirties were a trying time for the country. In order to create jobs, the federal government poured millions of dollars into conservation. For state parks, these federal assistance programs created a tremendous amount of development and acquisition, giving the park system its impetus.
The federal government purchased submarginal farm lands in the Jones Lake area at an average cost of $4.51 per acre, and the Resettlement Administration managed the area from 1936-1939. In order to stimulate the depressed economy, a program of land conservation and utilization began. With local materials and talents, the Resettlement Administration developed a recreation center at Jones Lake. A large bathhouse, beach, refreshment stand and picnic grounds were constructed.
The property was turned over to the state of North Carolina on July 1, 1939, for operation under a lease agreement. In October, 1954, the land was given to the state by the federal government. Jones Lake opened in the summer of 1939 as the first state park for blacks and achieved immediate popularity. In later years the park, like all other North Carolina parks, became fully integrated.
Besides serving as a source of recreation, the park has played other important roles in the area's history. During World War II, Jones Lake was open only for picnicking and fishing while the area was used by the Anti-Aircraft School from Camp Davis for special training programs. In the spring of 1970, the area achieved prominence when astronomers gathered there to view a total eclipse of the sun.
Jones Lake State Park has 20 campsites for family camping. Each wooded site is equipped with a picnic table and grill. Drinking water and restrooms with showers are located nearby. One site has electrical and water hookups and is available for both tents and recreational vehicles. However, the park does not offer a dump station for recreational vehicles. Campsites are available on a first-come basis. The park campground is open March 15 through November.
Group camping: A primitive group campsite, available for organized groups, is open year round. The site includes a fire circle and grill, picnic tables, benches and a pit toilet. Water is also available. The site is available by reservation only, and reservations must be made at least one week in advance. No more than 20 people can occupy the site.
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Take advantage of the aquatic activities offered by this cool, tea-colored lake. The sandy beach of Jones Lake is ideal for sunbathing, and the shallow water is a swimmer's delight. A fee is charged for swimming from Memorial Day through Labor Day. A concession stand and bathhouse are located nearby. A pier provides access for swimming and rental boats.
A road to the lake for small craft is located at the west side of the picnic area. The access road ends at the lakeshore, and only motors that are 10 horsepower and under are allowed on the lake. Canoes and paddleboats may be rented from Memorial Day through Labor Day at the boathouse adjacent to the pier. Salters Lake is undeveloped, and permission to use the lake must be obtained from park staff.
Few fish species are present due to the water's acidity. Yellow perch are the most abundant; chain pickerel, catfish, chub suckers and blue-spotted sunfish also occupy the lakes. Pier fishing is allowed only from the lake trail access points.