We’re kicking off our summer road trip series — Hit the Road — with an outdoor adventure-themed trip to Congaree National Park. With trails and wildlife, this park is a great destination for experienced adventurers + novice nature seekers alike.
Before you start packing your bags, here’s everything you need to know about the area + our insider recommendations.
Drive time: ~2 hours
Est. population: ~2,000 people in Hopkins, SC
Avg. high in June: 89º
🥾Things to do
Cedar Creek Canoe Trail
Starting at Bannister’s Bridge, this scenic trail winds 15 miles through an ancient old-growth forest with some of the tallest trees in eastern North America. If you don’t have your own equipment, you’ll need to rent a kayak or canoe for the journey.
Boardwalk Loop Trail
This trail is perfect for beginners — hike along an elevated boardwalk that begins on a bluff at the Harry Hampton Visitor Center. There are benches along the way if you need a breather and this trail is wheelchair + stroller accessible.
Explore Kingsnake Trail for birdwatching and keep an eye out for river otters on the Congaree River. Keep the park on your bucket list for spring 2023 — every year there are special synchronous firefly events where you can watch countless fireflies flashing in unison.
🍽️ Fuel up after hiking
Big T’s BBQ
Stop by after your hike for a plate piled high with Southern barbecue and all the fixin’s. This comfort food eatery is just a 10-minute drive from the park.
River Rat Brewery
If a cold beer is just what you need, sit outdoors at River Rat with a Twisted Lemon Wheat Ale. We bet the Pimento Chicken Philly hoagie with green peppers + onions would be pretty killer while you take a load off, too.
Recharge at this eatery with a chicken salad sammie on a sesame seed bun with lettuce and tomato + an order of steamed veggies on the side. Wash it down with some beer or wine.
🏕️ Cozy campsites + cabins
This campground is adjacent to the park entrance road. It has 10 individual and four group camping sites, each with a fire ring + picnic table.
Located one mile from Longleaf on the Bluff Trail, this spot has six individual campsites. Heads up: There’s no direct vehicle access to this campground.
Cedar Creek Cottage VRBO
This five-star vacation rental close to Congaree National Park has openings throughout the summer. It features a fire pit, WiFi, and two large porches.
Stay tuned for the July installment of our Hit the Road series. We’ll be highlighting a 30-mile road trip.
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