Trail Information

Map of Congaree National Park's trail system. Trails in red are closed.
Current closure information. Trails marked in red are currently closed.

There are a number of trails at Congaree which are available for foot travel only. Because the majority of the park lies within a floodplain, the terrain is generally very flat with only slight elevation changes. The majority of trails begin from the Harry Hampton Visitor Center and vary in length. Trails are marked with brown blazes along with the trail number; however, many trails are in the park's wilderness area and can be impacted by downed trees and flood damage. We encourage backcountry hikers to utilize navigational aids such as compass and map as well as offline GPS navigation tools.

Trails are rated
EASY, MODERATE or DIFFICULT based on length, conditions and difficulty of navigation. Mileages are approximate and are based on all trails being passable.

Park Trails

Boardwalk Loop Trail - EASY
CURRENT CONDITIONS: Sections of the Boardwalk are OPEN. The eastern sections of the Boardwalk remains closed due to a downed tree and flood damage. A loop can be made by taking Bluff Trail (#1) from behind the Visitor Center to the Boardwalk. Turn Right onto the Boardwalk and follow the Boardwalk till you get to Sims Trail (#2). Turn left on to Sims Trail (walking north) until you return to the Boardwalk. Turn left onto Boardwalk and in a short distance turn right onto Bluff Trail (#1) to return to your starting location.

Round Trip Distance: 2.6 miles

Download your Digital Boardwalk Tour Guide

The boardwalk begins on a bluff at the Harry Hampton Visitor Center with an elevated section that leads down into the old-growth bottomland hardwood forest. A variety of different tree species can be observed including bald cypress and tupelo trees in the lowest elevations. Loblolly pines, oaks, maples and holly can also be observed. The boardwalk has benches along the way and is wheelchair and stroller accessible. Pick up the Self-guided Boardwalk Tour brochure at the Visitor Center before beginning your walk to learn more about the the natural and cultural history of Congaree.

Bluff Trail (#1) EASY
CURRENT CONDITIONS: Most of Trail is Open. Trail between intersection with Longleaf Trail (#8) and the Visitor Center is CLOSED due to Boardwalk construction. A new unnamed spur trail (#10) now connects Bluff Trail with the parking lots near the Vistior Center.
Round Trip Distance: 1.8 miles

This upland trail loops north of the Visitor Center and connects to the elevated boardwalk for a short distance. The Bluff Trail passes through a young forest of loblolly and longleaf pines. Evidence of prescribed burns can be found along this trail.

Sims Trail (#2) EASY
CURRENT CONDITIONS: OPEN
Round Trip Distance: 3.2 miles

The Sims Trail follows an old gravel road and runs from the Bluff Trail on its northern end to Cedar Creek at its southern end, crossing the boardwalk twice. The clearing at the intersection with the Weston Lake Loop Trail was the site of a hunt club where Harry Hampton was once a member.

Weston Lake Loop Trail (#3) - MODERATE
CURRENT CONDITIONS: Section connecting Sims Trail (#2) and Oakridge Trail (#4) is OPEN (follows Cedar Creek). Sections on the eastern and western side of the trail are CLOSED due to flood damage.
Round Trip Distance: 4.4 miles

This trail provides great views of Cedar Creek where otters and wading birds are regularly observed. The eastern portion of this trail follows a cypress -tupelo slough (dried up river bed) where many cypress knees can be seen sticking up out of the water.

Oakridge Trail (#4) DIFFICULT
CURRENT CONDITIONS: OPEN; MAY BE DIFFICULT TO FOLLOW IN SOME AREAS; USE CAUTION
Round Trip Distance: 7.0 miles

Passing through a rich stretch of old-growth forest, this trail traverses a subtle ridge where a variety of large oak trees grow. The number of low-lying sloughs makes this trail great for viewing wildlife like deer and wild turkey.

River Trail (#5) DIFFICULT
CURRENT CONDITIONS: OPEN, MAY BE DIFFICULT TO FOLLOW IN SOME AREAS; USE CAUTION
Round Trip Distance: 10.1 miles

This trail leads to the Congaree River, the lifeblood of the park's great natural diversity. Approximately ten times a year the river overflows its banks and pulses water through the bottomland forest. When the river is low, a large sandbar may be visible. Much of the forest along the river was logged prior to the park's establishment and vegetation here is noticeably denser than that of other trails.

Kingsnake Trail (#6) DIFFICULT
CURRENT CONDITION: OPEN, MAY BE DIFFICULT TO FOLLOW OR IMPASSABLE IN SOME AREAS; USE CAUTION

Round Trip Distance (Not a Loop): 12.0 miles

The Kingsnake Trail is a favorite trail for birders because of the diverse vegetation and proximity to Cedar Creek. When sloughs are full of water, beautiful views are possible around every bend. Note: Bridge J is damaged (~2.5 miles from Cedar Creek Canoe Access) and may be impassable, especially with high water conditions.

Bates Ferry Trail (#7) EASY
CURRENT CONDITION: OPEN

Round Trip Distance: 2.2 miles

Starting from Route 601 in the eastern section of the park, this trail follows a 1920's ferry road south to the Congaree and is a remnant of the areas rich history, which includes colonial era ferries which once crossed near here. While at the river, please be aware that the bank is steep and could potentially be slippery. It is best to stay on the marked path, as old side trails are neither cleared nor marked.

Longleaf Trail (#8) EASY
CURRENT CONDITIONS: OPEN
Distance: 0.3 miles (one-way distance)

This spur trail branches off from the Bluff Trail and provides access to the Longleaf Campground.

Fork Swamp Trail (#9) MODERATE
CURRENT CONDITIONS: OPEN, MAY BE DIFFICULT TO FOLLOW IN SOME AREAS; USE CAUTION
Distance: 0.6 miles

The park's newest trail, which was opened in late 2017, provides access to the Fork Swamp area of the park. The trail runs alongside a narrow section of Bates Old River, a large oxbow lake created by a hurricane in 1852.

Spur Trail (#10) EASY
CURRENT CONDITIONS: OPEN
Round Trip Distance: 0.4 miles
The park's newest trail (opened summer 2020) was constructed by area high schoool students employed in the Youth Conservation Corps program. This short spur trail connects the Visitor Center parking lots with Bluff Trail.

Last updated: July 19, 2020

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

100 National Park Road
Hopkins, SC 29061

Phone:

(803) 776-4396

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