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Camping Fee Required Handicap Accesible Parking- Dedicated Lot Roadside Parking Restrooms / Toilets

Congaree River Blue Trail

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Congaree River Blue Trail

Skill Level: Moderate
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Rapids: None
Length: 46.0 miles
Duration: 48 - 60 hours
Portaging: No
What to Expect

Starting in downtown Columbia, you quickly leave the city behind and float for 46 miles without another public river access. The Congaree is a big, wide river with densely forested banks, huge floodplains, and occasional tall bluffs. Numerous sand bars and Congaree National Park offer excellent camping opportunities. If you want to explore the National Park, you can access hiking trails or paddle up the Cedar Creek paddling trail from the river. This is a long overnight, or an easier two-night camping trip. 

Access
Put in:
Jordan Memorial Landing
Access Details

Large parking area with boat ramps and dock. 

Take out:
Bates Bridge Landing
Access Details

Large parking lot with boat ramp and dock. 

Trip Details

This is a great canoe or kayak camping trip, with lots of campsite options, especially if the water is low enough to expose numerous sand bars. Starting in downtown Columbia, you quickly leave the city behind and begin a rural float. The first section of this trip consists of longer, straight stretches of river, but the river begins to meander more as you get downstream. About half-way, Congaree National Park begins on the left bank. You can get out and explore Congaree National Park by access the River Trail, or paddling up the Cedar Creek Paddling Trail. Development on the right bank is minimal and only occasionally visible from the river, making this a very rural paddle. 

Camping is allowed anywhere in the Park's backcountry along the river. Please contact the Park to obtain a free backcountry camping permit. There are no campfires allowed in the Park's backcountry. Camping on sand bars is allowed on either side of the river, but please respect private property by staying below the ordinary high water line. All but a few larger sand bars will be underwater at around 10,000 cfs. 

River otters are a common site along this stretch, as well as different bird species, deer, and other wildlife. Large trees line the banks, and you can check out cypress-tupelo swamps by paddling into one of the creeks that comes out of the National Park.

The Congaree River flows quickly, and is wide and free of obstructions. It would be possible to paddle this trip in two days, but the camping options make it an easy and enjoyable three day trip with time to explore or relax at a campsite. 

Waterway: 

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Congaree River Sunrise (Credit: TA)
Sand bar campsite. (Credit: TA)
Cedar Creek near confluence with Congaree River (Credit: TA)
Congaree River (Credit: TA)
Trip Resources
River Flow (CFS)
Discharge flow information
CURRENT CFS
Flows for safe padding (cfs)
MINIMUM
1000
MAXIMUM
60000
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Skill Level
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Flow Level
Runnable
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Skill & Flow Level
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Runnable
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Access Amenities
Parking - Dedicated Lot
Parking - Roadside
Restroom / Toilets
Fee Required
Handicap Accessible
Camping
Paddle SC is presented by
Upstate Forever
South Carolina Department of Natural Resources
South Carolina National Heritage Corridor
Rainey Foundation