Park Trail Conditions
Recent storms left damage on all park trails. Portions of the elevated boardwalk are currently closed. The lower boardwalk is open. Expect downed trees and debris on all trails and in Cedar Creek. Be prepared when hiking and canoeing.
The marked canoe trail on Cedar Creek extends from Bannister's Bridge to the Congaree River. Vehicle access to Cedar Creek is provided at Bannister's Bridge and at Cedar Creek Landing, and the Congaree River is accessible outside the park at the bridge on Highway 601. Using these three access points, several different trips are possible:
Time required: variable
For canoeists with only one vehicle, the best option is to put-in at Cedar Creek Landing and to explore the creek either upstream of downstream of the parking area. This portion of Cedar Creek is beautiful and tranquil. Its banks are lined with cypress trees that form a graceful canopy over the creek's dark waters. While it is also possible to explore Cedar Creek downstream of Bannister's Bridge, the creek is wider, easier to paddle, and more scenic in the vicinity of Cedar Creek Landing.
BANNISTER'S BRIDGE TO CEDAR CREEK LANDING
Time required: 4-6 hours
For canoeists with two vehicles, this stretch of Cedar Creek makes for an enjoyable and satisfying day trip. The creek is narrow at first, twisting through brush and low forest, but it soon widens and flows past oaks and loblolly pines of near-record dimensions. At the halfway point, the creek drops under a bridge. Off to the right is Wise Lake, a former channel of the Congaree River. The lake can be visited, via a short channel, when water levels are high. After another 2-3 hours of easy paddling, the iron bridge at Cedar Creek Landing will come into view.
Time required: 12-14 hours
Canoeists with two vehicles may also explore the wilder, eastern section of the park and float down the brown-water Congaree River. This works best as an overnight trip, so stop by the Visitor Center for a free backcountry permit before undertaking this adventure. About two miles downstream from Cedar Creek Landing, an old, hand-dug canal provides a short-cut through the neck of one of the creek's meanders. Two miles later, Cedar Creek makes a hard bend to the left and is joined by Horsepen Gut, a prominent tributary. Mazyck's Cut, a short channel that leads to the Congaree River, is three miles further ahead on the right. Here a wooden sign points toward the river and three trail markers indicate the shortcut. Since the remainder of Cedar Creek is not cleared or marked, it is recommended that canoeists follow Mazyck's Cut to the river. Once on the Congaree, clear floating awaits the canoeist for the 13 miles to the 601 bridge.
Did You Know?
In North America, only the conifer forests of the Western U.S. coastal region are substantially taller. East of the Mississippi, just a few patches of white pine and some cove forests in Great Smoky Mountains NP are taller. When compared to all of the world's forests, Congaree is among the tallest.