Easy to Moderate
in the swamps that line the trails. Filter it, of course.
An easy walk through giant trees. Solitude and unspoiled
backcountry allows plenty of privacy.
insect repellant, you'll need it. Be aware of rotting limbs
that may be high above your camp site. This is not a good hike
for the summer, the heat and humidity can be oppressive, the
Spring and Fall are the best times to view this ancient forest.
it's solitude that you are looking for then this is the place.
Moss covered trees line trails that wind through 22,000 acres of
bottom-land, old growth forest. Dwarf palmetto and other sub-tropical
plants give this area a "feel" that is unusual for the
midlands of South Carolina. This is the largest remaining tract
of this type of forest in the US. At one time, there were over 1,000,000
acres of bottomland forest in South Carolina alone.
only 1/3 of this area has developed trails,
according to one ranger, the rest is available for hikers to
bush-whack. Several loops can be made through primeval old growth
loblolly pines and bald cypresses, some of the pines are over
160 feet tall. The tallest trees in the Amazon are 130 to 150 feet
tall. Many old maples and beech trees can be seen here too,
some reaching nearly record heights.. There are over 25 miles of
trails here and all are open to back-country camping. Very few visitors
venture far from the board-walk loop, so the rest of the park is
open and uncrowded.
terrain here is very flat and is a pleasant walk in the
woods. At times very large roots may be in the path but not enough
to be a
problem. There are few rocks here, just rotting remnants of
old giants that have fallen . Dead fall litters the sides of the
trail. Hurricane Hugo cut a swath through this forest in 1990 and
it left behind open areas. The roots of the trees in this type of
forest grow out and on top of the ground for support. The Congaree
River floods several times a year and as a result the soil is
very dark and rich. Check with the rangers about safety issues
regarding the flash floods that can occur here. Although there has
been little flooding in the past few years, at times, the entire
floodplain can be under several feet of water.
of the dense undergrowth and thick tree cover this area has 167
species of birds. For this reason bird watchers frequent the
boardwalk but they rarely venture into the wilderness. Wild
Boars are also frequently spotted here, the damage from their
foraging lines the trails. Flooding controls the herd, they are
not good swimmers. Snakes can be seen on the trails although
most of them are non-poisonous. There isn't any black bear
but because of the many raccoons that live here you must still hang
your food. Not only does this area have lush foliage it has an abundance
you plan on spending the night, we recommend you do, be sure to
park outside the entrance gate.
repellant is a must here and poisonous plants line the trail.
Being aware of these issues are necessary for a comfortable hike.
ranger station is open from 8:30 to 5:00 PM seven days a week. The
phone number is: (803) 776-4396.