Hit the Road: an outdoor adventure to Congaree National Park

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Photo by @lynnrococo

We’re kicking off our summer road trip seriesHit 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.

Wildlife viewing
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.

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Photo by @lynnrococo

🍽️ 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.

Publick House
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.

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🏕️ Cozy campsites + cabins

Longleaf Campground
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.

Bluff Campground
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.

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Photo via VRBO

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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