Congaree National Park

It has been almost two full years since my last post, and I’ve enjoyed many wonderful trails in the time between. You know how you always tell yourself tomorrow will be the day you do “such-and-such” and then tomorrow is today and for some reason tomorrow seems like a never reachable point in time? Well, yeah, I can be very bad about that. BUT I am making a genuine effort to change this mindset and habit, not only with this blog but with my life. I feel like too much time goes by and goals aren’t met, and then I’m sitting here wondering what the heck am I waiting on to do the things I want to do?? Well, it starts with this blog. I am committing here and now and to posting all hikes, even if it is a couple of pictures to quickly say hey this hike was great. I want to show people there are awesome places around us, whether closer than you think or within a few hours’ drive.

One of my goals for the next couple of years is to make an honest effort to hike all, or most, trails in South Carolina. I say most because I may not hike every single trail that is only a mile or less, especially if it’s a decent drive from Columbia and there are no other trails near it. Just not going to happen. But I will be visiting State Parks, trails off the beaten path, and at the end of this year – family hike on the Foothills Trail. I will be posting and sharing a personal goal list soon, mostly hiking related, so you can follow along and share goals of your own!

Now let’s finally get into a new hike! This past Sunday, my husband and I decided to visit Congaree National Park. It’s only about 30 to 40 minutes away from our house, so not too far of a drive. We have been to Congaree before but for a kayaking trip. Which I must say – if you are looking for a cool place near Columbia to kayak, this is definitely a must! It’s really an awesome place because you really get the sense of being in a completely different place. When the water is still, all you see ahead are tall trees above you and the reflection of the trees below. Since we enjoyed the kayak trip so much and heard good things about the hiking, we decided to give it a go!

First off, they have a great selection of trails! If you take a look at the image below, you can see that there are many to chose from. And one of the good things about this park, is that many of these trails connect and overlap at times, so it’s easy to create a long hike out of several different trails.

Trails at Congaree National Park

We were looking to do about four miles, so we chose the Weston Lake Loop. The visitor’s center has a nice trail map you can take with you, and I would recommend grabbing one, as all these trails go off in different directions but also intersect a lot. A girl I used to work with told me her and her boyfriend got lost when they came out to Congaree because they didn’t have a map and ended up hiking over 10 miles. This could be dangerous if you don’t have enough water. So please grab a free map!

As soon as we left the visitor’s center, we got on the Boardwalk to go straight to Weston Lake Loop. I must admit, I am very much a fan of trails that are dirt and woodsy, as most trails are, but the Boardwalk was actually pretty awesome. You’re semi high up at times, so you can see all around, and it’s nice if you need wheelchair access for yourself or someone you’re hiking with. Just doing the Boardwalk trail would be a nice hike, but this wasn’t an option while we were there anyway as a large tree was blocking one side. There was no way around it, and I have no idea when they plan to fix it. I would imagine soon, but I did not ask.

My husband and our dog on the Boardwalk

It was really immediate how secluded and truly in the woods we were. It was amazing to be surrounded by so much green!

We decided to take the Sims Trail as a cut through to Weston Lake Loop. Just a way to experience many trails at once, and I love taking pictures of trail signs!

Sims Trail to Weston Lake Loop

The Sims Trail is more of a wider trail path with lots of bugs! And I mean a lot. This was the section between Boardwalk and Weston Lake Loop. If we go hike here again, I would much prefer to continue on the Boardwalk until it intersects with Weston Lake Loop further ahead. We were only on Sims for a little over half a mile, then got back on Boardwalk for a very short bit, then came to the intersection where you cross under the Boardwalk and continue on Weston Lake. If you walk up to the lookout, it’s a nice view of the lake and a bench to relax at for a moment.

Weston Lake was full of beautiful sights and lots of green! There were also a lot of cypress trees, which are pretty much everywhere. You often come to spots where many bald cypress trees roots can be found; it’s wild how much they remind me of stalagmites.

Bald Cypress Tree Roots
So much green on Weston Lake Loop

The remainder of this trail was truly enjoyable, and I got a few good shots that I really liked. When the trail is the mostly the same throughout, I don’t tend to take a large amount of photos, but I will add a few more below. I would definitely say this was an easy trail, no ups and downs, but this was very enjoyable to get out of Columbia and be immersed in nature!

Love this shot! Simply beautiful
Had to post another trail sign

Our dog, Henry, was completely worn out near the end of this hike, so daddy had to carry him! This was too cute not to share 🙂

This was the only shot all day I could get him to look at the camera
Poor Henry boy

Great hike. Great trail system. Definitely recommend! Leave me a comment if you’ve been to Congaree and recommend I try a different trail, I’m always open to suggestions!

Entrance to Congaree National Park

Hope ya’ll enjoyed this post, I’ll be posting a goal hike list and a hike with my mom at Lake Greenwood soon!

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