Boiling Spring Lakes Preserve

6,942 acres in Brunswick County

Open to the Public


Things To Do

Hiking / Birding / Wildflowers / Rare Plants View All

Plan Your Visit

This property is owned by the Plant Conservation Program and managed by TNC. View All

Get Directions

Coastal Plain; Brunswick County

GPS COORDINATES: (Head of BSL Community Trail)

Longitude: -78.06360581700
Latitude: 34.02126500390


"Bolivia, Funston, Lockwoods Folly, Southport"
Contact: NC Geographical Survey
1612 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC 27699-1612.
(919) 715.9718


Plant Conservation Program
NC DA - Plant Protection Section
1060 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC 27699
216 West Jones Street
Raleigh, NC 27603
(919) 733-6930, ext. 231

The Nature Conservancy
Southeast Coastal Plain Office
2807 Market Street
Wilmington, NC 28403 
(919) 395-5000


Located within the incorporated limits of the town that is its namesake, the Boiling Spring Lakes Preserve encompasses half of the incorporated area of the town. The establishment of the Boiling Spring Lakes Preserve is the result of a collaborative partnership between the North Carolina Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services' Plant Conservation Program, The Nature Conservancy, the City of Boiling Spring Lakes and the North Carolina Natural Heritage Program. The land is owned by the Plant Conservation Program and is managed by The Nature Conservancy.

In an average natural area, there are 8 to 10 species of plants growing in one square meter, but in the wetlands of Boiling Spring Lakes there are several times that number.  A bounty of rare flora and fauna is found in this landscape, including:

  • the federally endangered red-cockaded woodpecker
  • a variety of carnivorous plants (Venus flytraps, pitcher plants)
  • the endangered plant rough-leaf loosestrife
  • a variety of orchids
  • more than 400 vascular plant species

Brunswick County may be well-known for popular beach towns like Ocean Isle and Sunset Beach, but botanists hold North Carolina's southernmost county in high regard for an entirely different reason - Brunswick County is home to the greatest number of rare plant species in the state - the Green Swamp region in particular.

Brunswick County is located in the heart of the Cape Fear region, which contains the richest flora along the Atlantic Coast north of Florida. The moderating effects of the Gulf Stream, the high occurrence of natural fires, the considerable amount of marl (limestone) underlying parts of the county, and the wealth of longleaf pine habitats and wetlands contribute to the region's extraordinary plant life.

Boiling Springs Lake wetland complex contains a fascinating cross section of the Cape Fear region's natural communities. Though the area's dense vegetation may look foreboding, this preserve offers a rare glimpse of a vanishing landscape. Located partially within the town of Boiling Spring Lakes, the natural area contains a mosaic of unusual geologic features. A series of parallel ridges and swales are the remnants of an ancient dune system. A large concentration of Carolina bays (elliptical wetland depressions) studs the landscape. Fire-dependent natural communities, including high and low pocosins (evergreen shrub bogs) and longleaf pine savannas and flatwoods on the ridges and bay rims, form an intricate mosaic of habitats.

Human activities, including development and road building, have fragmented the Boiling Spring Lakes natural area. Years of fire suppression have allowed wood plant growth to invade the open longleaf savannas and overtake many plant species. Conservancy land stewards are actively working to restore the Boiling Spring Lakes Preserve to its natural condition by conducting prescribed burns in longleaf and pocosin communities and replanting longleaf pines.

Hiking / Birding / Wildflowers / Rare Plants

The preserve is open year-round sunup to sundown.

The Boiling Spring Lakes Nature Trail allows visitors to walk through a portion of the more than 6,000 fragile acres that make up the preserve.

If you're spending time at Brunswick or New Hanover beaches, Boiling Spring Lakes Nature Trail offers an interesting break from sand and waves.  The trailhead is at the City of Boiling Spring Lakes Community Center.


The trail head is at the City of Boiling Spring Lakes Community Center.  From Wilmington, take US 17 South to US 87 South and follow signs for the Community Center. 

From South Brunswick beaches, take US 17 North to US 87 North and follow signs for the Community Center.


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