Congaree Swamp National Monument Things to Do

  • pawpaw tree
    pawpaw tree
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  • harry hampton visitor center
    harry hampton visitor center
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  • boardwalk trail
    boardwalk trail
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Best Rated Things to Do in Congaree Swamp National Monument

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    visitor center

    by doug48 Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    the harry hampton visitor center offers a museum about the history and ecology of the congaree national swamp. they also present a short film about the park. at the visitor center you can get maps of the various trails that run through the park. admission to the park is free.

    harry hampton visitor center
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    Stop at the Visitor Center

    by 807Wheaton Updated Apr 27, 2005

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    If you are plannig an overnight hiking or canoeing trip, stop at the visitor center for a free camping permit, up-to-date information and a trail map.
    Canoeists can explore parts of the park where foot travel is difficult. There is a marked canoe trail on Cedar Creek.

    The Visitor Center
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    boardwalk trail

    by doug48 Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    the boardwalk trail is the best trail to take for a quick overview of the park. this 2.4 mile long elevated trail takes about an hour to tour. at the park is the .7 mile bluff trail, 4.6 mile weston lake loop, the 10 mile river trail, and the 11 mile kingsnake trail. there is also a canoe trail at the park. my following things to do tips is an overview of the boardwalk trail.

    boardwalk trail
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    cypress stand

    by doug48 Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    pictured are cypress knees among a stand of cypress trees in the swamp. cypress knees are part of the trees root system and help aerate the roots and anchor the tree in the wet soil. cypress trees are vary common in the southern u.s. and thrive on lake and river banks and in wet land areas. the tallest cypress tree in the united states is located in big tree park near longwood florida.

    cypress knees
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    lob lolly pine

    by doug48 Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    pictured is a lob lolly pine tree. the congaree national swamp is home to the tallest lob lolly pines in the united states. in most areas of the south old growth lob lolly pines were forested in the 1800's. because of the swamp's remote location these trees were saved from logging.

    old growth lob lolly pine
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    gut

    by doug48 Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    pictured is what is refered to as a gut in the congaree swamp. guts are small gullies and sloughs that run through the park. after a flood period water returns back to the congaree river by means of these waterways.

    gut
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    weston lake

    by doug48 Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    weston lake was once part of the congaree river thousands of years ago. weston lake is known as an "elbow lake" because it was once a curve in the congaree river. weston lake is home to otters, wood ducks, water snakes, and turtles.

    weston lake
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    pawpaw tree

    by doug48 Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    pictured is a small pawpaw tree in the congaree national swamp. pawpaws are the most dominate understory tree in the swamp. the fruit of the pawpaw is edible and was been eaten by native americans and early settlers in and near the swamp.

    pawpaw tree
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    seeping bog

    by doug48 Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    the muck of the swamp gets so saturated with rain and flood water that mini springs form all over the swamp. this water seeps out of the ground then flows into guts and finally returns to the congaree river.

    seeping bog
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    still

    by doug48 Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    pictured is a replica still in the congaree national swamp. for hundreds of years the swamp was a hiding place for runaway slaves, fugitives from justice, and moonshiners. there are a number of abandoned stills in the swamp.

    still
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    Harry Hampton Visitor Center

    by PinkFloydActuary Written Jun 20, 2009

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    After you get to the park and find a place to leave your car, the first stop is the visitor center. Here, they have a number of displays regarding the ecosystems in the park, as well as restrooms, and folks on duty to answer your questions. The center is open starting at 8:30 in the morning, and stays open until 5:00 - 7:00 at night depending on the time of the year. You can pick up a brochure about the Boardwalk trail, that starts behind the visitor center. Maybe most important is the mosquito meter just outside the doors that registers from a 1 (all clear) to a 6 (war zone). We arrived during a 4 (severe.) Hard to imagine a 5 or 6!

    Ready to go!

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    The Boardwalk Loop

    by PinkFloydActuary Updated Jun 20, 2009

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    This is actually one of the nicer trails you will take in the park system. As you leave the visitor center, you start off on the boardwalk trail about 5 feet or so above the ground. We followed the trail counter-clockwise, which means as we walked we gradually got to along the floor of the swamp. We didn't have too many issues with bugs until we got down to swamp level, then they were merciless. A little over a half mile in, you have the option of going deeper into the swamp along the Weston lake trail. We decided to stick along the boardwalk, and about half way around, we ascended back up again. Benches do line the trail if you need a break. After about 2.5 miles, you'll complete the loop and be back at the visitor center.

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    Sights along the Boardwalk

    by PinkFloydActuary Written Jun 20, 2009

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    As you travel along the boardwalk, it's handy to have the brochure as you can the learn about some of the plant life you'll be seeing. Outside of that, take the time to simply admire the quiet beauty of the swamp. There is a specific and short sidetrip to an overlook of Weston Lake, although as you can see from the pictures, it is a little obstructed. It's also fun to keep your eyes to the swamp for any signs of wildlife. We didn't see a ton, but we did get to see this snake gliding along the swamp. For those of you with a fear of snakes, remember that half the boardwalk is well above the swamp floor :)

    Snake! Weston Lake Overlook Weston Lake Overlook

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    Boardwalk trail

    by goingsolo Written Nov 27, 2008

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    The boardwalk trail is the easiest and quickest way to see the swamp. Along the boardwalk trail you will also find loblolly pines, and, if you're lucky, you may catch a glimpse of wildlife. Since the park encompasses more than the swamp, I'd highly recommend hiking at least one of the other trails to catch at least a glimpse of the forest. But, if time is short, the boardwalk trail will at least give you the opportunity to see the swamp and the tall pines.

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    Weston Lake

    by goingsolo Written Nov 27, 2008

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    The Weston Lake Loop was a good option for a short hike into the forest.. The trail is supposedly 4.6 miles (it seemed shorter), and its very well marked and easy to follow. It passes through the old growth forest and alongside the lake, passing the northern bank of Cedar Creek along the way back to the visitor center. Although I heard some sounds, I didn't see any wildlife until getting back on the boardwalk where there were 2 wild boar (or pigs? hard to tell) heading towards the forest.

    Its nearly completely flat and was an easy walk through a peaceful forest. There are two entrances to the trail from the boardwalk. The trail also intersects some of the longer trails, which can be used to extend your hike or for hiking to the Congaree river, about 10 miles away.

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Congaree Swamp National Monument Things to Do

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