“The largest intact expanse of old growth bottomland hardwood forest”
Astonishing biodiversity exists in Congaree National Park, the largest intact expanse of old growth bottomland hardwood forest remaining in the southeastern United States. Waters from the Congaree and Wateree Rivers sweep through the floodplain, carrying nutrients and sediments that nourish and rejuvenate this ecosystem and support the growth of national and state champion trees. Prehistoric foragers hunted the area and fished its waters. The Congaree Indians claimed the floodplain and Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto recounted the intrigue of the area in his journals. Around 1700, the Congarees were decimated by a smallpox epidemic introduced with the arrival of European settlers. The new residents obtained land grants from the King of England until 1776 when the state of South Carolina assumed the right to distribute ownership of the land. Attempts to make the land suitable for planting, as well as grazing, continued through 1860. The floodplain's minor changes in elevation and consequent flooding stifled agricultural activity; but the intermittent flooding allowed for soil nutrient renewal and enabled the area's trees to thrive. Bald Cypress, in particular, became a target for logging. By 1905, the Santee River Cypress Lumber Company, owned by Francis Beidler, had acquired much of the land. Poor accessibility by land confined logging to tracts near waterways so that logs could be floated down river. In the perpetual dampness, though, many of the cut trees remained too green to float. Operations were suspended within ten years, leaving the floodplain basically untouched.
The Boardwalk Loop is definitely one of America's coolest hikes. It's 2.4 miles right through the swamps and jungle-like forests! Plus, it'd be crazy awesome to see a real bobcat in the wild. Incredible canoeing, too!
This place also smells like fart.
This national park is a beautiful must see! The boardwalk loop was a fun way to navigate through the swampy forest. When we went we got to the park before sunrise and began the loop as the sun was rising. It seemed to be the perfect time. Not only was there nobody else around, but there was wildlife everywhere!
We visited this park in the heat of the summer during the morning. As you wlk in the shadows of the forest, it was not too hod. We saw many spiders in their large webs (nothing scary), lizards, beautiful insects, turtles in the water, and even an alligator in the river! The board walk was easy to walk and went through nice stretches of forest. We were amazed by the strange structures formed by the roots of the trees. It felt like walking through a fairytale landscape. We almost passed the visitor center but what a surprise! It is beautiful with great displays of all the animals you can see. Very kind and enthousiastic staff; they looked up several spiders for us and were just as excited as we were. Great place and not too far from Columbia.
Got a chance to see this place today. Gorgeous park and it’s quiet and peaceful. Saw a bunch of squirrels but not many other animals. We took the boardwalk and it took about an hour and a half. There’s also a few other trials to check out too. Also seems that winter is one of the better times to see this park because the mosquitoes out here are brutal other times of the year.
You can do kayaking for free!! My only complaint is that some of the trails were not maintained well.
Gorgeous park! The rangers were very friendly and informative.
Love the peaceful forest and options for your hike
I have been all over it. Even went from Cedar Creek Landing to the 601 Landing.
The Boardwalk Loop was fantastic! It started raining and the 'boards' (not made of wood), became slippery. Also, we couldn't complete the loop as a part of the Upper Boardwalk was closed. Even so, the trees and diversity of plants and animals was terrific.
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Congaree National Park
- Sun - Sat: 12:00 am - 11:59 pm
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Good for bird watching, equestrian, and 5 more activities.
Credit Cards Accepted
- National park
Campground, Parking, Dining