While hiking in the backcountry of Congaree National Park, your safety is in your hands! Adequate preparation, constant attention and good judgement will help make your hike a safe and enjoyable experience. When hiking, know your own limits and do not push yourself. Always carry the right equipment and know how to use it. Below are a few things you should know before hiking at Congaree:
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Most hikers get into trouble on the trail because of improper preparation. Remember: A little planning goes a long way towards making sure your hiking trip is a safe and pleasant one.
Treat All WaterIt is not recommended to drink from any water sources along park trails, including Cedar Creek. Drinking untreated water could lead to severe illness and other health problems. If there is no other alternative, water can be treated by one of the following methods:
Please be aware that water in the park contains high amounts of tannin, a natural substance that comes from decaying leaves and wood. Tannin makes the water extremely bitter, and it cannot be filtered out. It is recommended that all hikers carry their own water.
Hypothermia Can Strike Anytime...Even During the Summer!Hypothermia is a condition that sets in when the body's core temperature drops below what is necessary for it to properly function, which is 95º Fahrenheit (35º Celsius), and can lead to impaired judgment and physical collapse. Hypothermia is normally thought of as a condition that occurs only during the winter, but it can happen in any season, including the summer. This dangerous condition is easily preventable. Before beginning your hike, check the forecast to see what weather you might see during your hike. Bring rain gear to prevent from getting wet and wear clothing that dries quickly. Avoid wearing cotton clothing, and instead wear wicking fabrics that helps keep moisture away from your body. Remember that prevention begins with proper preparation.
Heat and HydrationSummer temperatures at Congaree generally reach the low to mid 90s. With the added factor of humidity, outside temperatures can feel like they are over 100. To avoid heat related illnesses such as heat exhaustion or heat stroke, wear light, breathable fabrics and carry plenty of water to avoid dehydration. It is recommended that during the summer months, visitors should carry at least 2 liters of water per person, per day.
SnakesSnakes are a common sight along park trails, especially during the summer months. Three snakes; the Water Moccasin (or Cottonmouth), Copperhead, and Canebrake Rattlesnake, are venomous. While potentially dangerous, these snakes generally try to avoid contact with humans, and will only strike if provoked. To avoid an unpleasant encounter with one of these park residents, the best thing to do is be aware and if you see a snake, respect its space and leave it alone. Be cautious while walking through tall grass or over downed logs, as these are ideal places for snakes to find shelter. If you see one on a trail, look for a way around the snake without disturbing it. If you are respectful of them, you will have no problems.
InsectsMosquitoes and other biting insects such as ticks, chiggers and deer flies, are very active during the summer at Congaree. You can avoid becoming a meal for these particularly annoying park residents by wearing proper clothing and wearing good insect repellent.
Last updated: June 24, 2020