Hiking in Congaree National Park
As part of the Charleston trip, Keaton and I decided to allot one day for a hike in Congaree National Park.
Yep, city bee meets swamp life.
We woke up early Sunday morning in Charleston, rented a car [a cute lil mazda; zoom zoom], and began our journey to Congaree. The drive took about 2 hours, and despite my poor navigation assistance [which was made up for in 'tune selection!], we arrived with no trouble, a little before 11AM.
Congaree National Park is one of the newer National Parks (2003) and is located in central South Carolina. The park offers a variety of different trails, each of which is relatively flat, and is surrounded by rich forests and towering trees. Many suggest that the best way to experience the park is actually through canoeing or kayaking. Unfortunately, they don't offer canoe or kayak guided trips on Sundays, so we knew we’d be hiking the trails instead! OK by me.
Before we ventured out for the day, we doused our bodies in bug spray [even though the "mosquito meter" was low!], and stopped by the visitor station to chat with a park ranger.
We roughly planned our hike and the ranger alerted us of a few flooded sections that we’d encounter [2+ feet deep]. The yellow highlighted portion of the map is the route we hiked; the blue portions are the patches of water.
Luckily we didn’t have to wade through the standing water [we could easily turn around and continue our loop], but we wanted to hike and see it!
As you can probably infer from the map, we ended up hiking a combination of trails, starting on the popular Boardwalk, and then venturing deeper into the forest. In total, we hiked about 11 miles.
It was peaceful, tranquil, and rarely did we see fellow hikers along the trail after we left the boardwalk.
Keaton practiced what we joked as “hardcore parkour” along the trail - effortlessly jumping over the trees that blocked our path. I, rather, showcased nothing but grace and beauty [just jokes] as I maneuvered over these similar roadblocks. Ha.
We stopped on a bridge about midway through the day to take a break for lunch. We shared a sandwich with some trail mix that we packed that morning. Then we were back on our way!
We read that the trail mightttt have some wildlife - snakes, boars, alligators [ek] … none of which we saw on our hike. We did see some birds, bugs, salamanders … and two cute lil prairie dogs ;)
We ended our hike the same way in which we started it - back on the Boardwalk. This portion was elevated above ground, providing a different point of view.
We stopped for a bit to enjoy the views overlooking the river.
Stopped: snappin’ turtles in the water!
We bumped into a fellow hiking group and they happily took our photo. Thanks, sir! Your photo skills are outta this world, and we very much appreciated your top-tier dad jokes. smiles all around.
All in all, it was a fab hike! I should note that my experience with National Parks is minimal, as the only other park I’ve been to is The Great Smoky Mountains, in Gatlinburg, TN. No surprise, the two parks are very different. We chatted about this on our drive home. We both prefer an uphill hike. You know, where you’re challenged to reach the top, and then rewarded with the gorg views below! Smokey Mountains was that kinda hike.
Regardless, I now have TWO National Park visits under my belt. And I have to say, it’s nice to be a nature bee for a day :)