Small National Park – Huge National Impact: Congaree National Park

Congaree National Park is home to some of the tallest trees in the eastern United States. Compared to other National Parks it may appear small, but this 22,200 acre-park has a huge national impact on the United States. Preserving this primeval forest landscape is crucial to not only our survival, but the plants and animals that live there.

As we drove to Congaree National Park from Summerville, SC, we were unsure what to expect. It’s just one of those National Parks you don’t hear much about unless you actually do your research. As we approached the park, the landscape seemed barren. Many loggers made the land what it is today and poverty has seemed to have taken over. As soon as my GPS told us to turn into the National Park, these magnificent trees began to appear. There was no longer sunshine beating down on us, but shade created by one of the highest forest canopies in the world. It was magnificent and breathtaking.

The park may be a sanctuary for plants and animals, but it was a sanctuary for us as well. We were able to walk and relax in this tranquil setting surrounded by natures silence. The park offered us peace and tranquility unlike I had ever experienced before.

The park offers many hiking trails and camp sites. As soon as you arrive in the park, you will come upon the Visitors Center. Stopping at this place upon your arrival is a crucial part to getting the full experience. Here you can pick up maps, hear suggestions from the park rangers, and learn more about the parks ecosystem. We only had a few hours to spend in the park, so we decided to take the Boardwalk Trail which begins and ends outside of the Visitors Center. This Boardwalk Trail acts as a self-guided tour. You can pick up the map in the Visitors Center and follow the numbered signs along the trail. Each numbered sign corresponds with a paragraph on the map to let you know what you are looking at. Some stops on the trail, you may be looking at a different type of plant or tree and if you look hard enough you will even see an old box that people used to make and hide Moonshine in. The trail is mostly on a wooden raised boardwalk, but in some areas where the boardwalk is closer to the ground, you may have to walk through mud/water depending on the season. You also have easy access to catch Weston Lake Trail and Sims Trail from the Boardwalk.

Many years ago as loggers started targeting South Carolina for their large Cypress trees, residents in the area wanted to try and preserve some of these wonderful, magnificent trees. This is why Congaree National Park was formed. Before it was a National Park, many outlaws of the South used it as the perfect hiding place to create and store their moonshine. The trees and plant life provided enough coverage so that no one would ever find it. On the walking tour, you can see the old boxes in which Moonshine was made and stored in as mentioned above.

If you are ever in South Carolina, don’t overlook this park. Each National Park is unique in its own way just waiting to be seen.

I HAD to show off this huge spider we found. This is as far as my camera would allow me to zoom in. It doesn’t do it justice.

With love & gratitude,

Crystal & Shane

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