Wednesday, September 24, 2014

CONGAREE NATIONAL PARK

Sunday, September 21 –  It doesn't feel like fall, here in Columbia, SC, but that's why we ventured South. Today's temperatures are expected to hover in the 80’s. Nice!

We are off this morning for a hike in Congaree National Park. The 26,000 acre National Park protects the largest remaining tract of old-growth bottomland hardwood forest remaining in the United States. The park contains some of the tallest trees in Eastern North America with one of the highest canopies in the world, broad bio-diversity and old-growth forest.

sun beams 

The trail map is pretty confusing. We had some trouble finding the trail we wanted to hike. As a matter of fact, we hiked the Bluff Trail (1.7 miles) first by mistake. Eventually we found the trail we were searching for, the Oakridge Trail (6.6 miles). But our confusion wasn't finished yet. Three quarters of the way around the Oakridge Trail be decided to jump over on the Weston Lake Look Trail, but got confused and headed down the River Trail (10 miles). YIKES!!!

The boardwalk leads to all trails.
boardwalk

sign post

Paul on trail 

Water tupelos dominate the landscape. They only grow where water is plentiful. The moss is an indicator of the water level from the pervious floods.

tupelos

The canopy above.
canopy of trees

We needed to watch where we were walking. The tree root system along the trail can trip a person up pretty badly.

root system 

Luckily, after about a mile, Marsha figured out our error, we turned around and headed back to the Oakridge Trail. By now, we were getting tired and decided to just retrace our route back to the Visitor's Center. Our calculations showed we had hiked almost 9 miles – more than we planned.

Paul really enjoys carving cypress knees. This forest is full of them, but it is against the law to remove anything from a forest.
cypress knees

Once again, we had the Park to ourselves. We really didn't see a soul until we were nearly back to the Visitor's Center. We enjoyed our hike, even though it was a bit confusing. We got a good workout, although we both admitted the scenery got a little repetitive after awhile.

Beauty of the morning.
spider web 

The Visitor’s Center is closed on Sunday and Monday’s. Marsha looked on the website but couldn’t find any mention of this plant. Anyone know its name?
plant

After returning to our truck, we headed the 30 minutes back to the campground. The temperatures were creeping into the upper 80’s by this time, so we were happy to get home. We spent the afternoon relaxing and Marsha, the never tiring tour guide, planned out activities for tomorrow.

With over 25 miles of hiking trails and 2.4 miles of boardwalk, there are many ways to explore the Congaree Wilderness.

Before you head out on your hike, be sure to check the mosquito meter…lolmosquito meter

We are currently in Augusta, GA. We will continue to catch you up on our Columbia, SC, adventure.

Thanks for stopping by. Hope to see y’all back real soon. Have a great day!

19 comments:

  1. How much I wish we were able to take long hikes. Not so right now with Len's back issues and my recent stroke. Hoping to work up to it. You are both an inspiration.

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  2. Thanks for showing us a national park that we have not yet been to. That root system looks pretty wicked!

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  3. I sure couldn't hike that far either!

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  4. We haven't been to Congaree but it is a place we've always wanted to visit. Looks like you were there at the right time as far as mosquitos go!

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  5. Great hiking area and beautiful photos - great header with the light shining thru the trees!

    I've tripped over roots like that a few times by not watching where I was walking!

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  6. What a great hike! Photos are super too. We are no longer having temperatures in the 80s. The forest is lovely....love the Cypress.

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  7. Isn't it amazing how difficult following a trail can be! The trails look so clear on paper. I think what really messes us up is all the new trails people have created that aren't on the paper. Glad you found your way before the hike got way too long. But it sure sounds like a good day especially when no one is around.

    I love that little stand of knees. It must have been hard for Paul to pass it up.

    I don't like when there is a mosquito meter. I am not a bug person.

    Glad Paul is doing so well with all the long hikes:)

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  8. We have visited this park before, and had a wonderful time. We had to stay off the boardwalks because at the time we had Whiskey with us and no dogs were allowed on the board walks. I love the Cypress knees!

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  9. Maybe a handheld GPS would help with those long hikes. Or, at least it might keep you on the right trail and off those longer unwanted trails.

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  10. Such a nice area to hike, and great weather too.

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  12. You got some memorable, outstanding pictures on your walk! That mosquito meter is helpful but a little intimidating. LOL BTW...Paul says the plant a Beautyberry. :-)

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  13. love the spider web pic. . .don't want to walk into one. . .but they are gorgeous!

    Have not heard of that NP. . .must add to the list (which keeps growing and growing.)

    I agree with Paul. . .the plant is American Beautyberry. . .it is prolific in the East Texas Woods. . .here's an interesting article about it:

    http://arboretum.ua.edu/whats-growing-on/american-beautyberry-callicarpa-americana/

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  14. Now THAT'S a hike!!! What a pretty area!! Be careful with those mosquitos, they can be wicked!!
    The weather sounds nearly perfect :-)

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  15. Great hiking area:) One of my most common complaints about hiking trails is the truly awful trail markers that exist on so many of them. Not sure why, just that it seems that way to me.

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  16. That is a Purple Beautyberry.
    At least it is mosquito they are gauging not Chiggers!
    Congaree NP is one of those lesser known parks and I wanted to visit it when we were in SC but it was just out of our route.

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  17. Sometimes you think the hike is going to be a piece of cake ... and then the trails get all confusing and you do something else ... but as long as you have fun, in the end it doesn't matter.

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