I’m almost embarrassed to confess that we live 30 miles from a national park, but had never visited as a family. So, when we found ourselves with a free Saturday, we decided to remedy this oversight.
Both boys must have sensed the impending adventure because they woke up earlier than usual (or maybe they were just excited because their Grandpa was visiting). Soon we were packed and on the road to Congaree National Park in Hopkins, South Carolina.
The 26,276-acre park is located just a few miles south of Columbia, South Carolina’s capitol city, and has more than 25 miles of hiking. We opted for the park’s iconic Boardwalk Loop, a 2.5 mile loop on an elevated boardwalk. As we set out our 4-year-old initiated a game based on finding the most “cool nature things.” The rules of the game were a bit unclear and seemed to change as the hike went on, but there were definitely enough scenic sites to keep the game going.
Congaree is home to the tallest and largest Loblolly pine trees in the world: 169 ft. tall and 42 cubic meters, respectively. We also saw plenty of wildlife, including beautiful spiders, turtles and even a juvenile alligator in one of the park’s lakes. We spent about two hours on the trail exploring, taking pictures, and soaking in the scenery. The trail was very kid-friendly, and our 4-year-old did great keeping up. Even our toddler got down from his carrier and did a section of the trail.
If you haven’t been to Congaree, I’d highly recommend it. The huge Loblollies and 500-year-old cypress trees were a sight to behold. It may have taken us awhile to take our maiden trip to our local national park, but I have a feeling it won’t be our last. I can’t wait to go back and try more of the trails and look for more critters.
Stay tuned for our next adventure and don’t forget to seek the scenic!