Today is the last day of National Park Week, but the celebration will not end as this year marks the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service. The whole year will be full of celebration and exploring. One of our favorite parks that is newer to the National Parks is Congaree National Park. Congaree is described as “the largest intact expanse of old growth bottomland hardwood forest remaining in the southeastern United States.”-National Park Service website. This unique ecosystem brings about a variety of critters and the opportunity for incredible explorations!
We visited Congaree last May and had a delightful time.There are a variety of trails including a picturesque boardwalk trail that had fewer bugs, but still provided you with incredible views. The boardwalk trail is 2.4 miles, making it the perfect distance for those who want to visit and enjoy the park but maintain a more low key visit, or those who want a more intense experience to start out on and get a feel of the park before going out and exploring the more rugged backcountry trails. Besides hiking the park, visitors can also explore the park by water trails that can be done in a canoe or kayak and allow you to see the park in a different way. There are also ranger guided programs for those who want to learn even more about this incredible ecosystem. Additionally, visitors are able to partake in camping and fishing, along with going to the visitor center, providing a variety of opportunities to explore Congaree depending on your interests.
One word of caution, however, to note is that mosquitoes were just dreadful when we visited. We attempted to wear more natural bug repellent, but were being eaten alive so we had to lay on the deet, and we still were bitten. Please, please wear loose clothing, as I had over a hundred bites through my clothes since they were more form fitting. We had to continuously keep walking because the moment we stopped, the mosquitoes swarmed us and began feasting-this is not an exaggeration. A different time of year may give rise to a difference experience, but we want to ensure we forewarned any visitors.
When we visited Congaree, we started by walking the Boardwalk Loop Trail that demonstrated the diverse ecosystem and allowed you to enjoy the park on a lovely boardwalk stroll. Our favorite part is how massive and beautiful the Cypress trees are. After we walked along the boardwalk we made our way to the Weston Lake Trail.
The Weston Lake Trail is known for otters, so it was an ideal trail for us. Our main goal was to see otters, but unfortunately we did not see any; however, Congaree did not disappoint, as we saw birds, a water moccasin, and a few wild boars! The first couple of boars we found were across the river, at a nice safe distance, but then as we turned a corner, another boar was directly in our path approximately ten feet away, giving us quite a scare. The Weston Lake Trail is a nice distance to really explore the park. Congaree is full of adventure and critters, making it another great part of the incredible National Parks.