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  • thompsonmkk

Trip 3, Days 1-2: Columbia, SC, and Congaree National Park

The Congaree National Park is about 30 minutes outside of Columbia, SC, and consists mainly of old-growth bottomland hardwood forest within a flood plain. Much of the park is swampland and the park service has constructed a great two-mile-long boardwalk trail from the visitor center to enable walking through the park. The boardwalk connects with several other longer trails and we took the Sims Trail and Weston Lake Trail from the boardwalk for about a five-mile roundtrip hike. Before heading out, check the status of the trails, as several bridges were closed on other trails. The Congaree contains one of the tallest deciduous forests in the world, with trees averaging over 130 feet in height, making for a beautiful hike. We also drove to another area of the park and hiked the Bates Ferry Trail, which followed an old abandoned road to the Congaree River (about 2.2 miles out and back). In terms of wildlife, we saw evidence of the feral pigs that lived in the area, but were unable to spot any, although we did see egrets, turtles, and a small alligator (in Weston Lake), and Mike spied the back end of a snake as it slithered (thankfully!) away from us. This area is also prolific with large spiders and ginormous spider webs and we constantly watched out for spider webs across the trails we hiked!

The city of Columbia also has numerous hiking/biking trails, including the scenic Three Rivers Greenway right along the Congaree River in the center of the city. We hiked around 5 miles roundtrip on the trail on the west side of the river in WECO (or West Columbia). The path had beautiful views of the river along the way.

Columbia also had many brew pubs to quench our thirst after our hikes and there were too many for us to visit them all! During our two-day stay, we were able to visit River Rat Brewery (delicious Astronaut Sauce IPA and Hazelnut Brown Ale), Columbia Craft Brewing, Savage Craft Brewing (I loved their grapefruit radler!), WECO Bottle & Biergarten (not a brewery, but a taproom with local brews), and Twisted Spur Brewing (great IPA and vanilla porter as well as tasty mussels with fries!).

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