Where is Lake Waccamaw. N.C.?
Located in southeastern North Carolina, Lake Waccamaw is a natural freshwater lake and is the largest of the Carolina Bay Lakes. It is conveniently located 45 minutes from Wilmington, 1 hour 15 minutes from Fayetteville, and 2 hours from Raleigh. Check-out this article in Our State magazine featuring Lake Waccamaw.
What the heck is Take the Lake?
WHO AND WHAT WE ARE
Take the Lake is a unique fitness weekend offering everyone the chance to walk, run, bike, paddle and swim in and around Lake Waccamaw over Labor Day Weekend. Due to COVID-19 concerns and government regulations on large gatherings, 2021 Take the Lake was a virtual and more than 200 participants together recorded 6,990 miles of running, walking, swimming, pedaling and paddling.
In 2021, we celebrated 13 years of Take the Lake events that are possible because of our generous sponsors, volunteers, City of Lake Waccamaw staff and first responders. It's a group effort to offer everyone a fun and challenging weekend of fitness events and fun.
So, why are we Take the Lake, and what are we doing? We are people who love beautiful Lake Waccamaw, N.C. and have become enthralled with the simple, but challenging, concept of – to use a military term – “taking*” the lake. We love to walk, run, bike, paddle and swim in and around Lake Waccamaw. It's the perfect place to enjoy a weekend of fitness and the natural beauty.
Lake Waccamaw is beautiful, and during much of your walk or bike ride, you will be able to look out over this blue vista. Depending on the route each given year, you will walk or ride through several distinct sections including Lakeshore Drive, Canal Cove Road, Waccamaw Shores, Bella Coola and Lake Waccamaw State Park.
Keep an eye on the lake as you travel, and watch the weather and the winds, experiencing subtle and climatic changes as you come full-circle. Watch the sun travel all around you as you box the compass. When you are nearly through your walk, take a short break and look across the water – far across the water – to the shore some five miles away, and consider that you just carried yourself all the way over there and back. It’s a rewarding feeling few people experience.
Columbus County has lagged among North Carolina counties in overall health statistics, and we see Take the Lake as a way to encourage people to adopt healthier lifestyles. Few people can easily complete one or all four Take the Lake Personal Endurance Challenges without training, so we hope people will begin training during the summer, changing their lifestyle and diet to get themselves in shape. If you do this each year, it should be easier to train, because you will likely maintain yourself in better condition throughout the year.
Swimming across Lake Waccamaw has been a personal achievement for generations, with its first proponent, Lee J. Greer, encouraging hundreds of youths and adults to join him each year, as far back as the 1940s, and it would become a Labor Day tradition. At the turn of this century, Grant Egley began organizing a walk around the lake each year on the same weekend. In 2008, a pilot event was organized, adding paddling and cycling, and in 2012, more than 1,000 people participated in Take the Lake.
Q: Why do you call it Take the Lake?
A: When a military unit “takes” a hill or city or, well, a lake, they surround it, they capture it, and it is theirs. There is no doubt that if you walk completely around this lake, you will have “taken” it, and then you can call it yours, and then you can take a rest!
Q: How much does it cost?
A: It's Free. The 16-mile bike and walk around the lake, the 1-mile Family Fun Run, 10K Family Bike, 6-mile paddle and traditional 4-mile Labor Day Swim are FREE. Thank you to our sponsors who cover our expenses to make these events possible. Registration is required for all events.
Q: What's with the funny brochure and artwork?
A: After the 2010 Take the Lake season -- or sometime during it, likely -- we started thinking how themes might liven up our event each year, and soon realized they could play two important roles: They could add color and variety to each season; and they could help us target specific groups of people each season. We started with "Military" in 2011, then "Educators" in 2012, and in 2013, we targeted law enforcement officers in "The Year we Called the Cops!" In 2014 we grew our share of farmers with an agricultural theme, and in 2015, artists painted our season bright. In 2019, we created a new Take the Lake logo and our theme this year and every year is to join in and enjoy a unique fitness weekend at beautiful Lake Waccamaw.
Q: What is this X-TREME! thing?
A: The X-TREME is a special event where participants complete each leg of the personal challenges in one day. During the 2020 and 2021 virtual events, the X-TREME was not run.
Q: For the Walk / Run, why do we start at Elizabeth Brinkley Park?
A: We started the Walk / Run at Lake Waccamaw State park for years and moved the start in recent years to Elizabeth Brinkley Park since it is central to the town and offers more shade and parking.
Q: Why do we need a helmet for the Bike & Hike?
A: Insurance. Without helmets, we can have no insurance. Without insurance, we can have no Take the Lake. Sooo... no helmet, no JAMA.
Q: For the Bike & Hike, why can't we ride through the woods?
A: The Bike and Run/Walk route around the lake and through Lake Waccamaw State Park is conditional based on weather conditions. Recent rains can wash out the Lakeshore Trail through the state park. Route updates will be made on this website and the TTL Facebook page.
Walking bikes on the Lakeshore Trail at the state park is matter for the state of North Carolina. The trail from the park campground to the dam is on state park land, and has not been authorized as a riding trail. We hope with trail improvements through the park, that one day soon riding all the way around the lake and through the state park is a feasible option.