You know the ones, the ones that you see on the interstate that take you to places of interest. We are going to start a new habit, when we venture anywhere, whether it be a weekend road trip or a larger adventure, we are going to follow at least one of them and see where it takes us.
So this is the first of what I hope many blog posts about following the brown signs. On our way back from a quick trip from Charlotte to see our son and daughter-in-law we got off the road and followed a brown sign which took us to Congaree National Park in South Carolina. I have one of those National Park Passports so I wanted the stamp anyways so we figured why not. While this was a quick trip we are going to come back and do some of the hiking and camp in the area.
We stopped at the visitors center (Harry Hampton Visitor Center) where I was able to get my passport stamped and get some questions answered by the friendly rangers and volunteers. The visitor center was named after Harry Hampton who helped save Congaree from logging the area. There is a film that explains all the efforts taken to save the park and how it became a national park. There are also exhibits which show the highlights of the park and the people, plants and animals. There is a beautiful boardwalk, which while we were there was flooded in part, but we did get to hike a bit of it. Some of the regular trails (which there are plenty) were flooded as well. The rangers recommended that paddling should be saved for another time, as the water was too high. Which, since after all we were just following a brown sign we were okay with it and for sure we have put the area on our bucket list to return and take advantage of the rest of the trails, and maybe do a little paddling at the waters of Congaree.
What makes this place so special? The trees, they are enormous, and so beautiful, and when stepping on the boardwalk it took us back in time. Everything was so green, quiet and breathtaking. As we walked all you could hear were the birds singing and the other wildlife, like frogs and insects and the sound of our feet. The boardwalk was semi crowded with other visitors, maybe they were following the brown signs too, who knows but for sure we were all enjoying the park and the beauty it offered. I also suspect that since the boardwalk is the easiest and driest option not too many people venture off. Hence the reason I want to come back to go off the beaten path and see what’s around the next bend. When we got to the part where we were going to have to take our shoes off or hike through it we turned around (remember we followed the brown sign and did not bring our boots). But next time we will be more prepared.
We highly recommend this, so if you ever see the brown sign for Congaree National Park, you must go.
How do you get there? Congaree National Park is southeast of Columbia, South Carolina. From I-77 take exit 5 onto SC 48 (Bluff Road), follow the brown signs. Also, if you put it in the GPS, it will give you choices and the Visitor Center is one of them. That’s the one we choose, you should too, you will not be disappointed. Their phone number is 803/776-4396.
Camping- They have two primitive campgrounds, tents only and no vehicle camping, however the parking lot has room for larger vehicles/trailers for day use only. While there I asked about local camping for RV’s. They suggested Sesquicentennial State Park (which there is a brown sign for this as well-but remember we are only picking one a trip), anyway after doing a little research here goes: it is 1419 acres, the phone number is 803/788-2706, the address is 9564 Two Notch Road, Columbia, South Carolina. They have 52 standard (water and electric sites), 14 tent sites, electric is 30 amps, they have hiking and biking trails and much more to offer. The website for the South Carolina State Parks is southcarolinaparks.com where reservations can be made.
So that’s my take on this trip following a brown sign. Hope to meet up sometime while you are doing the same.