This is a 23.2 mile backpacking tour of Congaree that can be completed by experienced hikers, during favorable trail conditions, in two days. The route will take you through every part of the park, allowing you to witness one of the most amazing preservation and conservation efforts in the world.
Free is good. You don't need to buy a guide book. Print this page and bring it with you. Pick up a free trail map at the Harry Hampton Visitor Center. Use both as a guide. Also, register at the visitors center and let the rangers know your intentions. You will need to obtain a free backcountry camping permit. Congaree National Park is a designated wilderness area, and although backcountry camping is allowed, strict regulations apply. Also, the Congaree River floods it's banks every once in a while, making passage on most of this route impossible. It is best to simply call the park directly with questions and concerns, and for current trail conditions. (803) 776-4396.
Starting at the After Hours parking lot - Bluff Trail to the elevated boardwalk.
Left on elevated boardwalk to Weston Lake.
Left on Weston Lake Loop Trail.
Left on Kingsnake Trail.
Travel out-and-back on Kingsnake Trail.
Straight on Oakridge Trail at Bridge I.
CAMP. Bridge G on the Oakridge Trail is exactly the half way mark (11.6 miles). You will want to discuss camping opportunities in this area with the rangers when you obtain your permit.
Left on River Trail.
Complete River Trail loop and return.
Left at River Trail and Oakridge Trail junction.
Right on Weston Lake Loop Trail.
Continue back to Weston Lake.
Left on low boardwalk.
Complete low boardwalk, heading in the direction of the visitors center.
Left on Bluff Trail, departing boardwalk before reaching the visitors center.
End at the After Hours parking lot.
Congratulations! You have walked on every trail in the park except the Sims Trail, which is really a road anyway. No big deal, right?
This route is only a suggestion. Once you see the trail map you will know the variations available. I suggest this route, however, because it is pretty simple to follow and it has a nice flow through the park.
There is one more thing about this route that is interesting. You only have to carry your backpack on 9.7 of the 23.2 miles. You can dump your pack prior to the Kingsnake Trail at bridge I, and then again prior to the River Trail around bridge F. Use caution hiding your pack and inspect it for snakes upon return.
Be sure to ask the rangers about the Friends of Congaree Swamp. This is a non-profit organization that helps protect and promote Congaree National Park and it's unique environment. More info here: http://www.friendsofcongaree.org
Trail length: 23 miles
Posted by SCgregg1 on March 2, 2010
Trail System Congaree National Park
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