Named for the Congaree River that flows through it, Congaree National Park in South Carolina protects the largest old growth bottomland hardwood forest in the United States. These forests are known to flood, and in 1975 it was misleadingly made the Congaree Swamp National Monument, but its trees would not survive continuous flooding let alone swampland; it was appropriately amended to national park status in 2003.
Although they don’t rival the height or size of trees in Redwood or Sequoia National Park, Congaree has several “Champion Trees” which receive this special designation due to their significance.
The 2.4 mile Boardwalk Loop is the park’s most popular and accessible trail, but there are many from which to choose, and the Congaree River offers another vantage point for those who bring their own canoe or kayak. Serious paddlers should try the 50-mile Congaree River Blue Trail which starts in downtown Columbia, SC and continues downstream into Congaree National Park.