By far the largest natural lake in North Carolina, Lake Mattamuskeet on the Albemarle-Pamlico peninsula in Hyde
County spreads over nearly 50,000 acres, is 18 miles long, 7 miles wide, and averages 2-3 feet in depth.
The origin of the lake is unknown, but there are three hypotheses. The first is that winds and water action created a sand rim around a juniper swamp, causing and expanding a depression to hold Mattamuskeet waters. An Indian legend says the lake resulted from a peat fire that burned for 13 moons and then the Great Spirit filled the depression with rain water, fish, and waterfowl. The third hypothesis is that coastal lakes are craters formed by one or more meteor showers.
There are no rivers or springs flowing into the lake and there is no natural outlet. Rainfall and surface runoff from adjacent lands fill the lake.