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  • Writer's pictureBrian Childress

Congaree National Park - South Carolina

Congaree National Park is a 26,276-acre national park in central South Carolina, 18 miles southeast of the state capital, Columbia. The park preserves the largest tract of old growth bottomland hardwood forest left in the United States. The lush trees growing in its floodplain forest are some of the tallest in the eastern United States, forming one of the highest temperate deciduous forest canopies remaining in the world. The Congaree River flows through the park. About 15,000 acres are designated as a wilderness area.

The park received its official designation in 2003 as the culmination of a grassroots campaign that began in 1969. With 145,929 visitors in 2018, it ranks as the United States' 10th-least visited national park, just behind NeVeda’s Great Basin National Park.

The visitor center is named after Harry Rutledge Elliott Hampton (1897–1980) who was a South Carolina journalist and conservationist who was instrumental in the establishment of Congaree National Park.

Congaree offers a home and sanctuary to many endangered plants and animals including the Red-Cockaded Woodpecker. It’s also home to bobcats, wild pigs, foxes, opossums, deer, racoon, snakes, and river otters.

One of the attractions in the park is the General Greene Tree which is the largest bald cypress tree in the park, standing at 30 feet. The tree was also named a South Carolina Heritage Tree in 2008.

Coversations/Things we learned:

This park is one of the smaller National Parks we have visited and the famous 2.6 mile boardwalk leads to all trails and kayak/canoe launches. The only exception is the Bates Ferry Trail which leads to the General Greene Tree. This trail is on the other side of the park and requires you to leave the park and drive about 15 minutes. If you decide to hike to the General Greene tree, carefully watch for small red flags on the ground on the right as you walk down the trail. You then are required to walk over an old iron bridge to access the tree.

All other park trails loop around the boardwalk and Congaree River. If you plan to visit this park, there are two considerations on time:

If you simply plan to hike, you can see most sites and trails in one day. If you plan to kayak and/or canoe, give yourself two days. We recommend you do both hiking and boating.

As the mosquito meter reflects at the visitor center, this park is on a swamp so please bring bug spray.

Contact Information:

100 National Park Road Hopkins , SC 29061

Phone: (803) 776-4396


(Harry Hampton Visitor Center)

(Vintage wood canoe)

(Mosquito Meter)

Boardwalk Loop Trail


Gallery of photos

Weston Lake Loop Trail


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Wise Lake


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Bates Ferry Trail/General Greene Tree


(General Greene Tree)

(Directions to General Greene Tree)

Gallery of photos


Congaree River


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Gallery of photos

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