Why You Should Explore Congaree National Park
It’s the only National Park in South Carolina, and it offers a way to explore the unique terrain and foliage of the Palmetto State. Plus, it’s free!
Start off with a visit to the Harry Hampton Visitor Center. Grab a map, use the restroom, & pick up a souvenir. Tip: Be sure to wear your mask inside!
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A popular hike (and one we highly recommend with kids) is the Boardwalk Loop Trail. An easy 2.6 mile loop through the best that Congaree has to offer.
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Walk under some of the tallest and oldest trees, not only in the state of South Carolina, but in the U.S.
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Be sure to stop and marvel at the Cypress trees and their “knees,” the little knobby root-like mini trees that surround the bigger trees.
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They are also called “Wood Elves,” and are said to come to life at night to dance through the forest.
Be sure to watch your heads as you walk. You don’t want to run into a Golden Silk Orbweaver spider web! Some of these were as big as our hands!
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When the Boardwalk Loop Trail reaches a junction, take a short detour to the right and follow the Sims Trail 1 mile out to Wise Lake. So worth it!
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Be sure to follow the Sims Trail across the wooden bridge! On the other side you will find Wise Lake. Don’t be fooled by the river flowing underneath.
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Wise Lake is an old fishing lake. When we arrived to it there was a light sprinkling of rain, and the sunlight through the trees was stunning!
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So serene and beautiful. Worth the extra walking to get out to Wise Lake.
After walking 1 mile back along the Sims Trail, rejoin the Boardwalk Loop. You’ll pass amazing trees, hundreds of years old and hundreds of feet tall.
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You’ll enter the marshy area of the park on a raised portion of the boardwalk. Depending on the season, the water level will be higher or lower.
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If you’re lucky, you can spot the famous wildlife of the South, alligators! Be sure to take the short detour to Weston Lake along the Boardwalk Loop.
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Westin Lake has a sitting area where you can take a break, enjoy a snack, and take in the beauty of Congaree NP. This is the best area to see gators!
Best times of the year to visit Congaree are during the Spring or the Fall. Weather is mild, temperatures cooler with less humidity, & less flooding.
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Near the end of the trail, you’ll find thickets of these beautiful purple berry bushes, called Callicarpa dichotoma, also known as Purple Beautyberry.
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Things to take with you for exploring Congaree National Park: a hat, sunscreen, water bottles, bug spray, tall socks and a face mask.
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Favorite sunscreen for kids & adults! Continuous spray for easy application, not greasy, quick drying, and water/sweat resistant. At most drug stores.
Be sure to use a bug spray that protects against mosquitos AND ticks for hiking in Congaree. Mosquitos are worst during the summer and wet months.
Best waterbottles for kids are the Contigo thermos. Easy open straw spout, insulated to keep drinks cold, dishwasher safe, & convenient carry handle.
We recommend neck gators for face masks while hiking! Slip around your neck and never drop it when not in use. Choose from a large variety on Amazon.
Enjoy yourself and the beauty of nature! Have a great hike!
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