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.
Boardwalk Loop Trail - EASY
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
Sims Trail (#2) EASY
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
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
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
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
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 is impassable. Do not attempt to cross the bridge. It may be possible to go around the bridge during dry conditions.
Bates Ferry Trail (#7) EASY
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
This short trail branches off from the Bluff Trail and provides access to the Longleaf Campground.
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.
Last updated: August 23, 2020