Trails at Jones Lake State Park

Status of park trails

Park map (PDF)

Hiking the trails at Jones Lake State Park makes a wonderful addition to a family picnic or swim session. Aromatic bay thickets, pond cypress stands with Spanish moss, and longleaf pine trees with red-cockaded woodpecker cavities are signature attractions at the park.


Pets are permitted on park trails. Pets must be on an attended leash of no longer than 6 feet at all times. Please pick up after your pet when you are at the park; pet waste is not fertilizer and can put plants, other animals, and visitors at risk for disease. Please dispose of pet waste in garbage bins and do not throw waste bags in the woods or leave them on the ground. When sharing a trail, hikers with pets must yield to all other trail users.

Don't Forget

  • Insect repellent and sunscreen. Mosquitos are plentiful in a Carolina bay lake environment when the weather is warm.
  • Trail map: Avoid getting lost. Pay attention to trail markers. Download and print a park map (PDF) at home, or stop by the visitor center to pick up a map.
  • Plenty of water: Know the signs of heat-related illness and how to respond.
  • Sturdy walking or hiking shoes: Trails have a natural surface with roots, rocks, gravel, sand, and wooden boardwalks / footbridges.

Please do not wander off the trail when hiking or walking with your pet. Going off trail increases the chances of encountering ticks, venomous snakes, and poisonous plants.

List of Trails

Note: The table below can be sorted by length, difficulty, trail use, and accessibility to people with disabilities or limited mobility. Click the corresponding header category to change the order of the trails. You can also use the search function to narrow down the list.

Trail Name Blaze Length Difficulty Trail Use ADA Accessible Description
Bay Trail white diamonds 4-mile loop Moderate Hiking only No

The Bay Trail is a loop around Jones Lake, offering an excellent chance to experience the habitats of a Carolina bay. Wander through dense vegetation and over boggy soil to view lovely lakeside flora. Large pond cypress trees, draped with Spanish moss, line the shore and grow in the shallow water. Swamp cyrilla, or titi, overhang the water's edge with its delicate white flowers. Several short side trails lead to the lake, allowing hikers a chance to catch their breath while viewing the vista across the lake.

A trailhead is located behind the picnic shelter, but the trail also has a spur connecting to the campground, near campsite #9.

This trail has a natural surface, with roots, gravel and sandy areas. Parts of the trail travel on wooden boardwalks.

Cedar Loop Trail red circles 1-mile loop Easy Hiking only No

Part of the Bay Trail, the Cedar Loop Trail offers a quick look at a Carolina bay forest and wetland. The trail is so-named for the Atlantic white cedar, which itself has a unique name because it is actually a type of cypress. The tree's leaves produce a scent similar to cedar wood. The tree is also notable for being the only host plant of Hessel's hairstreak, a rare butterfly.

The trail begins at the far end of the picnic area. From the visitor center, head right before the boathouse pier.

The trail has a natural surface with gravel areas. Parts of the trail travel on wooden boardwalks and footbridges.

Salters Lake Trail yellow rectangles 1-mile one way Moderate Hiking only No

The Salters Lake Trail spurs from the Bay Trail and leads to the shore of Salters Lake. The hike to Salters Lake passes through bay forest and sand ridge communities, as well as longleaf pine stands. As such, the red-cockaded woodpecker, typically more associated with the Sandhills region, also calls Jones Lake home; like at other state parks, longleaf pines with woodpecker cavities are marked with white paint and can be spotted as visitors travel on the Bay and Salters Lake trails.

This trail can only be accessed by hiking half of the Bay Trail. Hiking clockwise from the visitor center, the junction of the trails is about 1.7 miles out. Adding this out-and-back hike to the Bay Trail loop will add 2 miles, for a total of a 6-mile hike after completing the loop.

The trail has a natural surface with gravel areas.