Yes, Congaree National Park is both a swamp and a forest. It is also the second newest national park, and one of the least known of all the parks. Originally Congaree Swamp National Monument, it became Congaree National Park in 2003.
Congaree National Park, located in south-central South Carolina along the Congaree River, protects the largest contiguous area of old-growth bottomland hardwood forest remaining in the United States. It is a tranquil, serene place. A two-and-one-half mile boardwalk trail meanders through the forest, providing access to some of its secrets.
|Elevated Boardwalk Trail Through the Forest|
|A Perfect Time of Year for a Walk Through a Swamp|
The trail first passes through a primeval swamp that is dominated by bald cypress trees. This is an almost other-worldly part of the forest. Cypress “knees,” which are part of the tree’s root system, protrude from the forest floor. To me, however, they look like a forest of gnomes.
|Cypress Knees, Or Gnomes?|
|A Canebrake of Switchcane|
|Bald Cypress Trees|
The trail continues on an elevated boardwalk that winds through a mixture of bottomland hardwood trees and upland pines. The trail passes by Weston Lake, which was once an oxbow bend in the Congaree River.
|The Hardwood Bottomland Forest|
It was a wonderful walk, and we enjoyed the park so much that we decided to spend the night here. We are now in possession of a backcountry permit to camp in an after-hours parking lot. No one else is around, and it’s perfect.