Congaree National Park Highpoint Trip Report

Date: December 6, 2003
Author: John Mitchler

Park Overview

Congaree Swamp National Park is south of Columbia, South Carolina, along the Congaree River. It's not a swamp (year-round water) but rather is a river floodplain (i.e. bottomlands with dry periods). The Congaree is special because it is the largest tract of old-growth hardwood bottomland forest in North America and has the highest deciduous tree forest canopy in the world. The trees there are old and tall! In 1989 Hurricane Hugo felled many of the national champion trees (there were twenty here) but the canopy still remains high.

More than 170 bird species have been sighted here including Swainson's Warbler. Luckily, the highpoint lies at the entrance which is above the low bottomlands. It would've been cruel if a hammock in the middle of the "swamp" had the high ground. Yikes!

The park has a few hiking trails and an amazing 2.5 mile boardwalk through the "swamp." The rangers encourage canoe and kayak treks on Cedar Creek. There is no admission fee and none is planned. No signs or literature has been changed (they all say monument instead of park). The new assignment of park status was done relatively fast and without typical impact and land studies. I'm not certain that the park service is pleased about that. The area is wonderful though and it's nice to see that an area does not require a soaring mountain to be considered worth preserving as a national park.


From the south side of Columbia, take Exit 5 off I-77, and follow SC 48 east for 11.9 miles to Mtn View Road (S403077) on your left (south). Go 0.8 miles and turn right (west) on S40734 at the Mt. Moriah Baptist Church. Go 0.6 miles to the entrance of the park on your left, noting the old park entrance, Caroline Simms Lane, after 0.3 miles.

The high ground is just 100' to the right (west) of the entrance, along the road in the woods. You can see NPS boundary signs on the trees. About 100' farther west, a faint dirt road off the pavement marks private land. Be careful of the briars and glass bottles in the woods. Note the fake gray rock which covers utilities.

The visitor center is accessed from the entrance, is the terminus of the boardwalk, and is open 8:30am - 5:00pm daily. There are some services along SC 48, though more services are found in Columbia.

Contact information:

Congaree Swamp National Park
100 National Park Road
Hopkins, SC 29061

Tel. (803) 776-4396
web pages