February 15, 2020 @ 8:00 am – 11:00 am America/New York Timezone

When: Saturday February 15, 2020 at 10.00 am from the trail head; 8.00 am from Publix for car pooling

Description: There are now 62 National Parks in the United States but there is only one National Park in South Carolina …. Congaree National Park. It hosts an astonishing biodiversity and has the largest intact expanse of old growth bottomland hardwood forest remaining in the southeastern United States. They might not get the fanfare of Yellowstone’s Old Faithful, Yosemite’s Half Dome or the Grand Canyon, but 25 champion trees in Congaree can boast to being the largest of their species in all the country. No other area in North America has a larger concentration of champion trees. 

The Hike: The park features more than 20 miles of hiking trails in the northwestern portion of the floodplain, the most popular being the 2.4- mile Boardwalk Loop, which is what we will hike.  Raised nearly six feet above the forest floor, the elevated section of walkway winds through a thicket of old-growth trees, ending at Weston Lake, once a channel of the Congaree River. The low boardwalk takes visitors through a primeval bald cypress and water tupelo forest.  However, because the river frequently floods certain areas of the park, that route may have to be changed at the last minute.  There is a beautiful 20-minute video on Congaree at the Visitor Center that we will view before the hike. At the visitor center all hikers are encouraged to take a copy of the trail map. 

Lunch: For those who wish, after the hike, we will have lunch at “California Dreaming” in Columbia. If you intend to have lunch you must inform Gerald no later than February 12th. California Dreaming is housed in the old Union Station in Columbia. It is also known as Atlantic Coast Line Railroad and Southern Railway Station. It was built in 1902, and is a brick and stone, eclectic Jacobethan Revival / Tudor Revival building. It features stepped gables and towering chimneys. It was designed by architect Frank Pierce Milburn for the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad and Southern Railway.  It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1973.

Meeting place:  For those wishing to go directly to the park follow Interstate 20 East towards Columbia for 65 miles to Exit 64A. Merge onto Interstate 26 and follow for 8 miles to Exit 116, Interstate 77 North towards Charlotte (on the left). Follow Interstate 77 for 5 miles to Exit 5, Bluff Road.  Exit 5 turn onto SC Hwy 48 East/Bluff Road. Drive approximately 8 miles and then take a slight right onto Old Bluff Road. Follow Old Bluff Road for 4.5 miles to the park entrance sign, which will be on the right. Proceed one mile to the Harry Hampton Visitor Center. Parking lots will be on the right.  (Travel time 1hour 35 min). For those wishing to car pool we will meet, and depart from the Publix parking lot on the East Gate Drive side at 8:00 am. There are restrooms available at the Congaree Visitor Center.  No fees to enter Park.