Paddle Through An Enchanted Forest in SC’s Only National Park: Congaree National Park

Paddle Through An Enchanted Forest in SC’s Only National Park: Congaree National Park


If you are wanting for a way to get away from folks, enjoy nature, and have an unbelievable encounter correct here in South Carolina, appear no even more than kayaking in the state’s only national park in the vicinity of Columbia at Congaree Nationwide Park.

This park is new to the free incentive system to get young children checking out the outdoors! Discover all about it in our overview of the Youngsters in Parks Application

The landscape at Congaree Nationwide Park seems to be like something other-worldly with its huge trees scraping the clouds, dense inexperienced brush, and still, dim water that mirrors the forest. Even though the park has plenty of hiking trails, the Cedar Creek Canoe Path is a ought to-do for the sheer special encounter by itself. 

I initial heard of Congaree National Park when flipping as a result of a gorgeous e book on countrywide parks and observed a image of a human being floating through the trees in a kayak. I was promptly captivated. It did not even glimpse real. 

Congaree is the only countrywide park in South Carolina and has definitely, really old trees, which are fed by the vitamins in the floodplains, which is where by the canoe path is positioned. There’s also no admission payment. 

Cedar Creek Canoe Trail

I’ve never ever been on any type of boat trail so this was right away interesting for me – a canoe trail? Like a path, but of h2o? Really substantially. There are even path markers on the trees. 

The trail encompasses much more than 15 miles of waterways with the smaller waterways that department off the larger sized path and dumps into the Congaree River. It’s straightforward to get lost if you head the incorrect way so grabbing a map, or screenshot is perfect. 

There are a couple of entry factors to the canoe trail (I know it suggests canoe but a kayak could be simpler to maneuver and that is what I utilised although we did see some persons with canoes). We utilised the trailhead at Kingsnake Trail, which was a tiny gravel parking good deal with pit loos and trash cans. You can also fall in at Bannisters Bridge off Aged Bluff Street. 

The Cedar Creek Street accessibility level at Kingsnake Path is a great place to fall in but you’ll require to walk your boat down a gravel path, probably 100 ft or so. It is not as easy as other lakes where by they have boat ramps right at the drinking water.

Enchanting and Magical Expertise

When we bought on the drinking water, nevertheless, it was magical. We went upstream for 2.5 miles right up until a significant tree blocked our path. We turned all over and headed back, stopping on the banks for a speedy snack and watching for wildlife – we saw a bunch of snakes and tons of animal tracks.  It took us about 3 several hours on a tandem kayak with myself and two young children (a single of which was not paddling).

The Nationwide Park Assistance does consider care of that individual part of the trail upstream and will clear out debris and downed trees as desired if the federal government is not shutdown or the country isn’t dealing with a pandemic.

a h2o snake just hanging out

The park is residence to hundreds of animals including much more than a dozen unique forms of snakes (most are non-venomous), wild hogs, bobcats, and even alligators. The biodiversity of Congaree is just extraordinary. 

And it’s tranquil and tranquil and serene. We noticed possibly a dozen other men and women all through the three hours we paddled down the creek. It is suitable for receiving out in character and a way to practice social distancing.

Guided Tours at Congaree National Park

When the park is open up, they give paid out ranger-guided canoe excursions in the course of spring and slide months but you have to have to reserve in advance of time. Little ones ages 6 and up are capable to go on the excursions, which are constrained to 12 people today. The park offers lifetime vests, paddles, and canoes. Tickets are $70/man or woman. The us the Beautiful passholders get 50% off their tickets.

A handful of neighborhood outfitters also give guided tours and are little enough the place they are not at this time restricted by authorities and condition restrictions relating to the pandemic, even though that could improve.

Though I went with my young children by itself and not part of any tour team, I did get to fulfill the owner of Carolina Out of doors Adventures, an clothing store that operates in the Columbia spot, Billy Easterbrooks. He was good more than enough to help me with receiving my tandem kayak down to the water and give me some tips. We handed his tour on the way back again to the landing and the persons he was guiding have been possessing a blast! He’s an skilled on the area as nicely as a paddler with yrs of expertise so you know you’re in great palms. He runs out and back kayak visits on Cedar Creek, which are two to a few several hours and involve all the gear. The charge is $75 a human being.

Recommendations for Paddling in Congaree National Park

There’s a whole lot to take into consideration when having a journey by the park by way of the floodplain.

  • Check the h2o ranges before you go. It is seriously vital to know if the creek is flooded (8+ feet) because paddling is not proposed at that amount because of the unpredictability of currents. And if the h2o is too minimal, you will not be in a position to get a boat down the creek. 
  • Deliver bug spray. Congaree is not technically a swamp but the bugs feel it is and they are relentless. Through the winter of training course, bugs are not an concern. But any other time, you will be dealing with awful mosquitoes. 
  • You do not need to do the whole trail in just one working day. In simple fact, several paddlers will just take a two-working day vacation and camp together the river. The currents can make paddling much more hard at some points so allow excess time if you’re paddling downriver and then have to have to go upstream on the way back. 
  • Try to continue to be in the center of the river for two reasons: 1) the water is further and it’s simpler to maneuver a boat and 2) you are going to have much less of a probability of accidentally hitting a tree branch overhead and obtaining a snake fall in your boat. Billy advised me this hardly ever happens until you shake a branch with a snake in it!
  • Look at for downed trees and branches in the water and let adequate place to go all-around them. I did not want to get caught in a circumstance where by I would have to get in the water to maneuver my kayak so I remaining a lot of house to get around trees – also, individuals larger sized branches are in which snakes and spiders like to hold out so a different purpose to keep away from them.
  • Bring a few towels, adjust of apparel, drinking water, initially support kit, and lunch/snacks. Normally be well prepared in the wild and the additional apparel and towels will support due to the fact you are going to most likely get soaked from the paddles.
  • Have on old sneakers or drinking water sneakers simply because it is muddy and you really don’t want to eliminate your footing. Never use flip flops or footwear that will very easily slide off your toes.
  • Appreciate the silence of the forest. With so a great deal anxiety and uncertainty these days, Congaree has the electrical power to genuinely transportation you to a totally other entire world, just one of natural beauty and awe. My young children liked it and had a blast locating snakes and examining out animal tracks and just remaining blown away by the novelty of the put.

Have you been to Congaree Nationwide Park?

Congaree National Park
100 Countrywide Park Street, Hopkins, SC
803.776.4396



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