Cathedral Bay Heritage Preserve

Property Location

Olar, SC 29843

Latitude: 33.161  Longitude:-81.166
Acreage: 58
County: Bamberg

Property Type: Heritage Preserve - Natural

NO Hunting Allowed on Property

Hours of Operation

Heritage preserves are open for public use from one hour before sunrise to one hour after sunset (Reg. No. 123-204 C).

Activities / Facilities

Nature Viewing Hiking Canoes

Property Description

The S.C. Department of Natural Resources, through its Heritage Trust Program, owns and manages Cathedral Bay, also known as Chitty Bay or Chitty Pond. Purchased in 1986 from The Nature Conservancy, acquisition funds for the preserve came from the Heritage Land Trust Fund. The 58-acre Cathedral Bay Heritage Preserve is located near the junction of SC Highway 64 and US Highway 301 in Bamberg County.

Cathedral Bay is an excellent example of the Carolina Bay phenomenon. Carolina Bays are elliptical or oval basins found throughout the Atlantic Coastal Plain. The vast majority of these features are found within North Carolina and South Carolina. Along with their unusual shape, bays have several other features in common.

Aligned along a northwest-southeast axis, the long axes of all Carolina Bays parallel one another. When viewed from the air, this image of elliptical landforms, which all point in the same direction, is striking and has led to much debate concerning their origin. The soil is high in organic matter and contains hydrogen. Bays act as basins that collect rainwater runoff and hold it above the normal water table.

Carolina Bays are wetlands that vary in size, ranging from less than an acre to several hundred acres. The vegetative communities associated with bays vary both within individual bays and among different bays, but are generally of a wetland type.

Carolina Bays often support abundant wildlife. Several rare, threatened or endangered plant and animal species are associated with Carolina Bay features.

Natural History

Cathedral Bay is a striking example of a pond cypress pond. Pond cypress is the dominant and generally the only tree species occurring in these bays. Pond cypress ponds are relatively deep, holding three to four feet of water when they are full.

The bay interior offers a stately remote atmosphere. Myrtle-leaf holly is common in the shrub layer with wax myrtle and button-bush being less common. During dry periods at Cathedral Bay, grasses and sedges are common.