Cedar Creek Canoe
Trail Activities: t
Trail Features: t
- Water Launch
- No Fee
Flowing through the heart of Congaree National Park, Cedar Creek is a major part of this dynamic floodplain wilderness area. It could be the finest canoe trail in the Midlands, too, since floating this dark waterway feels like taking a trip back to prehistoric times.
The Cedar Creek Canoe Trail in Congaree Swamp National Monument is an easy, six-mile journey through the last significant tract of old-growth bottomland hardwoods in the Southeast. It could be the finest canoe trail in the Midlands, too, since floating this dark waterway feels like taking a trip back to prehistoric times. Just 10 years ago, 150-foot baldcypress and towering 160-foot loblolly pines were common -- if humbling -- sights. But Hurricane Hugo pummeled the Swamp and felled some of the real whoppers although at least 85 other species of trees still reside here.
Wildlife in the swamp is also incredibly diverse (130 kinds of birds, 41 species of mammals, more than 50 fish species and two dozen reptile species). Feral hogs root through the underbrush (hunters long ago took the last wild hog -- a 500 pounder!) and black bears have reportedly used the park as well.
The entire Cedar Creek Canoe Trail wanders all over the swamp, into a myriad of other creeks and branches (local paddlers call them “guts”), for approximately 16 miles. Since doing the full trail is considered an overnight trip, you may want to do the six-mile section described below. Regardless, it’s imperative to notify the park rangers before beginning. Heavy runoff from the Upstate often changes water conditions and can make following the channel a difficult proposition. Sometimes floodwaters create false channels and reverse flows, which can be confusing. Float time in normal conditions is three to four hours.
Hours: Dawn to dusk, with the gates open from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Camping: There is primitive camping available just inside the National Monument at a small campground.Directions:
Access Points (mileage and GPS coordinates are approximate and for reference only):
Mile 0 - (GPS N 33.8405 W 80.8600) - Bannisters Bridge - The access is on a dirt road off Old Bluff Road (Richland County S-40-734). From downtown Columbia, drive southeast on Bluff Road (SC 48) for 12.3 miles (8.4 miles from the junction of I 77 and Bluff Road) and turn right onto Old Bluff Road (S-40-734). Drive 4.3 miles to the bridge, then turn right onto a dirt road. You can get directions for parking at Congaree Swamp National Park.
Mile 2.9 - (GPS N 33.9198 W 80.8228) - Pass under a service road bridge.
Mile 6 - (GPS N 33.8186 W 80.7861) - Cedar Creek Road - From downtown Columbia, drive southeast on Bluff Road (SC 48) for 18.5 miles (14.6 miles from the junction of I 77 and Bluff Road) and turn right onto Cedar Creek Road (Richland County S-40-1288). At approximately 2.5 miles, a pipe gate marks the gravel road that leads to a throw-in access.