Congaree National Park

Congaree National Park is located in the U.S. state of South Carolina. The park holds 26,546 acres and the largest area of old growth forest in the United States. The establishment of the park began in 1969, when a group of conservationists began a grass roots movement to save the forested area from falling into the hands of private owners.

Congress established Congaree Swamp National Monument in 1976, protecting it from loggers and in 1983, the area was designated as an International Biosphere Reserve. In 1988, over two thirds of the park was designated as a wilderness area and an Important Bird Area and 2001. The area was established as Congaree National Park in 2003 and was expanded by 4,576 acres.

Congaree National Park holds the Congaree River, which supports the floodplain forest of old growth trees that first brought interest to the area. These deciduous trees form one of the world’s highest canopies in a temperate climate. The park also contains a portion of the Middle Atlantic coastal forests ecoregion. Many animal species reside in the park including alligators, snakes, raccoons, deer, bobcats, coyotes, largemouth bass, and catfish.

Congaree National Park offer many activities to visitors including hiking, bird watching, kayaking, and canoeing. Popular hiking trails include the 4.6-mile Weston Lake Loop Trail and the 11.1-mile King Snake Trail. The most popular trail in the park is thought to be the 2.4-mile Boardwalk Loop, an elevated trail that gives visitors a view of the fragile plant life in that area. Guests can visit the Harry Hampton Visitor Center, which offers information about trail conditions and exhibitions about the wildlife in the park.

Image Caption: Baldcypress (Taxodium distichum) on Congaree National Park Low Boardwalk trail. Credit: Miguel.v/Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)