Congaree is less than 20 miles from Columbia, the capital of South Carolina. It’s a new National Park, having had the unfortunate name of Congaree National Swamp Monument before it became a national park in 2003. The park is small, about 24,000 acres, and has fewer than 20 miles of trails. You can hike all the trails in the park in less than two days.
But visitors don’t go to Congaree to hike; even the park literature calls it walking. They come to see the huge bald cypress and loblolly pines considered champion trees and the largest remnant of old-growth floodplain forest on the continent – floodplain, not just swamp. A floodplain is a low lying area near a river, covered by water periodically throughout the year. A swamp is permanently covered with water.
On this short visit, I just walked the Boardwalk and got a good idea of the floodplain environment. I also checked out the campsites, pictured above.
On my next visit, a weekend planned for Carolina Mountain club, I’ll canoe and walk the rest of the trails.