Congaree Swamp National Monument Travel Guide

  • cypress swamp
    cypress swamp
    by doug48
  • Congaree National Park
    Congaree National Park
    by goingsolo
  • pawpaw tree
    pawpaw tree
    by doug48

Congaree Swamp National Monument Things to Do

  • Have a Picnic

    There are a few picnic tables in a covered area near the visitors center if you wish to enjoy a meal in the outdoors. Beware during mosquito season, though!

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  • Hiking Trails

    There are several foot trails you can hike through the park. However, some areas are only accessible by boat. I have more details about the trails under my Sports Tips.

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  • Numbers and Guides

    Along the boardwalk trail are numbers that correspond to a guide you can purchase in the visitors center. This will teach you more about life in a floodplain forest. Hope no one has Triskadecaphobia.

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  • Weston Lake

    One of the prettier sights along the trail is Weston Lake. You can get a nice view of Weston Lake from the accessible Boardwalk Trail or take the Weston Lake Trail (not accessible) for a closer look.

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  • Cypress Knees

    These bits of tree that you see growing around the base of the Cypress Trees are called Cypress Knees they can grow up to 7 feet tall and are part of the trees root system. They help the tree obtain nourishment and stabilize the tree in the soggy ground of the floodplain.

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  • Plantlife

    There are also over 80 species of trees in 22 different plant communities in the park. The abundant water supply supports a wide variety of fungi-type plants.

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  • Wildlife

    There is abundant wildlife in the park to include: 170 bird species, 60 reptile and amphibian species, 49 fish species, many species of inescts, and a variety of mammals.

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  • View the Swamp From the Boardwalk

    There are two ways to see the park: By foot and by boat. If you are touring by foot take the Boardwalk Trail. The Boardwalk Trail serves as a great introduction to this floodplain forest, leads to Weston Lake, and connects to other foot trails. The boardwalk is fully accessible.

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  • Visitors Center Museum

    The visitors’ center has several nice displays depicting the history of the area and the plants and animals that live here.

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  • Start at the Visitors Center

    You should start your tour of Congaree National Park at the Harry R. E. Hampton Visitors Center. Here you can pick up a brochure of the park, watch the introductory film, get backcountry permits, and gather any other information you need to enhance your enjoyment of the park. The center was named for Harry R. E. Hampton who was instrumental in...

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  • visitor center

    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.

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  • boardwalk trail

    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...

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  • cypress stand

    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...

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  • cane stand

    pictured is a stand of cane. cane is an indigenous grass that looks like bamboo. cane is common in the wet areas of park.

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  • lob lolly pine

    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.

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  • gut

    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.

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  • weston lake

    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.

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  • pawpaw tree

    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.

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  • seeping bog

    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.

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  • still

    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.

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  • Sights along the Boardwalk

    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...

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  • The Boardwalk Loop

    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...

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  • Harry Hampton Visitor Center

    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...

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  • Weston Lake

    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,...

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Congaree Swamp National Monument Warnings and Dangers

  • Warnings

    As with all places you should obey all warning signs because they are there to protect you and the park. I found the warning sign for the mosquitoes funny; but take heed they grow big here and can be quite a problem. Also, please place your trash in the appropriate containers.

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  • mosquitos

    pictured is a sign at the visitor center that warns of mosquito activity for the day. my visit to the swamp was on a cool fall day and i did not experience any mosquitos. in the spring and summer they can be almost unbearable. in the summer wear long sleeve shirts, pants, and bring mosquito repellant.

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  • Pets are allowed

    Pets are allowed on all trails except the boardwalk. They must be leashed. Be alert for hazards associated with a wilderness environment. This includes poison ivy, stinging insects, snakes, and mosquitoes.A South Carolina fishing license is required for fishing. Minnows and fish eggs are prohibited as bait. Fishing is not allowed in Weston Lake....

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Congaree Swamp National Monument Off The Beaten Path

  • goingsolo's Profile Photo
    Congaree National Park

    by goingsolo Written Nov 27, 2008

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    There is supposed to be a great deal of wildlife in the park. It makes sense that, the farther you travel into the backcountry, the greater your chances of finding it. I didn't see anything in the forest, although I heard the sounds of something out there. Getting back on the boardwalk, I spotted these two wild boars/pigs. I'm not sure which they were. I was pretty glad to be on the boardwalk instead of in the forest when they came rushing through.

    Related to:
    • Hiking and Walking
    • Adventure Travel
    • National/State Park

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Congaree Swamp National Monument Sports & Outdoors

  • Canoeing and Kayaking

    The only way to see parts of the park is by canoe or kayak. You can rent equipment at several different outfitters in Columbia if you do not have your own. One of the primitive camping areas is only accessible by boat.

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  • Weston Lake Trail

    The Weston Lake Trail circles Weston Lake for a closer view. I only took part of this trail. Water, Good Walking Shoes, Sunscreen, a Hat, MOSQUITO Repellant!

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  • Sims Trail

    The Sims Trail cuts through the area surrounded by the Boardwalk Trail and connects with other trails. Water, Good Walking Shoes, Sunscreen, a Hat, MOSQUITO Repellant!

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Congaree Swamp National Monument Favorites

  • Basaic's Profile Photo
    Visitors Center 4 more images

    by Basaic Written Oct 27, 2011

    Favorite thing: Congaree National Park protects 24,000 acres of old-growth bottomland hardwood forest. Congaree is the largest contiguous area of floodplain/forrest in the US. There used to be 1 million acres in South Carolina alone and 52 million in the Southeast. Congaree is supported by periodic flooding from the Congaree River. This habitat supports a wide variety of plant and animal life. Congaree was just upgraded from a National Monument to a National Park in November 2003. It is located in central South Carolina. One of the highlights of the park are the "champion trees" like the 150 foot tall Bald Cypress trees and the 167 foot tall Loblolly Pines. The best way to see the park is probably taking a canoe along some of the canoe trails. If you cannot do that then there are some hiking trails. I suggest the Boardwalk Trail. In addition to looking up at the tall trees, look down. There is an amazing variety of fungi and mushrooms growing here in the wetlands.

    Fondest memory: Hiking the Boardwalk Trail

    Related to:
    • Jungle and Rain Forest
    • National/State Park
    • Museum Visits

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Explore Deeper into Congaree Swamp National Monument
Bluff Trail
Sports & Outdoors
Hike the Boardwalk Trail
Sports & Outdoors
Boardwalk trail
Things to Do
Stop at the Visitor Center
Things to Do
Map of Congaree Swamp National Monument

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