Congaree Nation Park for kids?

Anyone have any experience with taking kids canoeing in South Carolina’s Congaree National Park? My kids are experienced paddlers but this park is a bit different then what they are used to. They have a mosquito meter which means it can get really bad there. When is the best time of year to go? Should we take the Ranger tour or go on our own? Any water trail more interesting then others? Any suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks

I’d avoid midsummer. The Mosquito meter is mostly decoration. Just bring bug jackets or lots of sun and insect repellent…
Its up to your kids whether or not to take a guided tour… The current is mild unless the level is high. Check the NPS website for Congaree re water levels… There is a map of the two put ins… There are other hazards like poison ivy.

I’ve only paddled in congaree two days. did it over a thanksgiving weekend, a year and half ago. That was a good time to go as there were no bugs at all. but being a deciduous forest things look a bit brown that time of year. We actually had a pretty difficult time navigating in the “swamp” . A combination of high water and blow downs made things a little tricky. We had a gps for which I was very thankful. When we got off the water we talked to a ranger who had done a different stretch but confessed to having to use his gps as well that same day to find his way to the main river. The flow changes direction at high water so you can’t just follow cedar creek and because the water flows into surrounding area it’s sometime hard to discern the main creek channel-

I wouldn’t hesitate to take children at normal water levels… An easy thing to do would be to go up and back from the south cedar creek road access- see national park service website map. There is not much current going upstream from there.

the park only allows tent camping in their campground or in the swamp.

I made a video of our paddle and posted on facebook, if your interested and a facebook user I’ll share the link with you .

Great advice guys. I’m not on Facebook otherwise I’d love to see the video. We may take the trip in a warm early spring day. I’ll study the map and check out where you are talking about. Thanks

I use Skin so Soft in most skeeter areas. It works, skin is softer, and you smell better. It is the best thing our pipe fitters found for Georgia gnats at the chemical plant. Netting hats are more effective since all those oils sweat off over time.

@Overstreet said:
I use Skin so Soft in most skeeter areas.

What ever you do though don’t spill it on the truck finish.

Depending on how warm the snakes can really be visible. The brown water snakes like to hang in the trees over water where they can drop into the water when they feel threaten. They aren’t poisonous. Cotton mouths are common and they are poisonous.
I have seen lots of wildlife in the spring

Nice pics!

Thanks. For me a small waterproof camera is essential gear attached to my PFD I am always wearing.

Yea, some great pictures. I hope you don’t mind me laughing at the last one. Thanks

You may be laughing a lot on Cedar Creek as there can be a number of portages. The second photo above we had to go under the tree with the snake or pull out on land to go around, You can see the hat of the first person to pass under the tree to the other side. The last photo was taken by the same friend as we did what I call an on water portage, while he did a more traditional portage and walked around the down tree with his canoe.

I’ve been there and done that. That’s why it’s funny. Thankfully no one took pictures of me doing it. :slight_smile: Brown Water Snakes look too much like Water Moccasins for my liking.

In the above post the third photo down is a Cottonmouth "Water Moccasin with hard to see black lines. The wide head is facing away in the photo and is characteristic. When young they look similar to a copperhead. If you notice in the other photos how much more slender the brown snake and it’s head are. Plus, there is a regular brown square pattern on the non poisonous Brown Water Snake that doesn’t fade with age.
The first photo below is a young cottonmouth the focus is blurred, but the reddish color is apparent when young. As the snake ages it becomes a darker and darker brown with the black markings becoming harder to see. The second snake is older than the reddish one and younger than the the photo in the first group i posted. We saw 7 cottonmouth’s and 18 Brown Water snakes on this day trip. All the Cottonmouths were on the ground or in the water, and all the Brown Water Snakes were in the trees the day I took these photos.The real danger is not seeing them and accidentally stepping or putting a hand on one. I would want my kids to be well aware of this. Also be aware that a Brown Water Snake may drop from a tree into a boat causing an unnecessary panic. You might get a laugh about that when it is all said and done. :wink:

I’ve seen quite a few Water Moccasins in my day and they all look different and since they go through so many changes I’m very cautious of any simular snakes by water. Snakes don’t bother me however a slow painful death is not on my current to-do list. Thanks for all your information and pictures.