Congaree National Park

Congaree National Park in South Carolina is in my top five of national parks. It’s a huge old growth forest that was only designated a National Park in 2003. Before that it was made a protected area in the 1970’s. The Congaree River winds like a snake through the area and the watershed it produces becomes a giant flood plain in the winter. Known for the trees that grow here, the park is an educational bonanza.

Loblolly pines and Cyprus are the dominant plants. Some of the tallest trees in the Eastern US are here. Several have been named national and state champions for their age and height.

                

The main trail through the park is a boardwalk, half on the ground and half elevated.

                 

It is really well maintained. And what I love is the benches placed every so often.

The boardwalk is 2 1/2 miles long. There are other trails throughout the park in the wilderness area. It’s a definite reason to come back.

The ground is extremely wet because of the flooding every year.

     

Some places along the trail are higher so it seems more like the forests of the Midwest.

The state plant is the palmetto tree. Here are dwarf palmettos that love the moist soil.

I spent a pleasant Sunday afternoon here. The weather was lovely, the forest was peaceful and I was fulfilled.

 

 

Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Cuyahoga Valley National Park is unique.  It’s a recent addition to the National Park System, 1970’s, and was created in an urban area. In fact, it feels more like a National Forest because there are villages and towns and county roads inside its borders.

Civilization intrudes in many ways, like Highway 271.

Many areas of the park are actually city parks in the Cleveland metropark system. The Cuyahoga Valley lies just south of Cleveland, Ohio. It features the Ohio-Erie Canal and has many museums and historic sites. The one on the history of the canal system is excellent.

Other attractions within the park include golf courses, ski resorts, sustainable farms, horse riding trails, and several inns.

The Visitor Center is an historic site itself. It is in the village of Boston Mills and was a tavern/rest stop for canal boats.

There are several nature centers, too. The one I visited is tucked away in the woods.

I did a little hiking, but as you can see, the weather was not cooperating.

All in all this national park is interesting. And, as a bonus, since it is made up of city parks, there is no entrance fee.