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River Trail

As a day trip or backpacking trip, hike through designated wilderness that’s rich in wildlife, and reach the shore of the Congaree River.

Hiking Moderate

15 km
10 m
10 m
3-4 hrs
Low Point
30 m
High Point
34 m
River Trail Map

This is one of the longer trails in Congaree National Park, and one of the most varied. The park is famous for its old growth, which is a forest that has never been logged. Not all of the park is old growth, however—many trees were cut down within the past 150 years. On the River Trail, you’ll hike through some areas of old growth, with giant trees and open understory, and other areas of younger, denser growth that were previously logged. This provides an interesting perspective for nature lovers.


River Trail is also one of the park’s best for wildlife viewing, both because of the varied forest types and because it travels so far from popular areas. You may see many kinds of birds, small mammals, white-tailed deer, or wild boar. You will also see the Congaree River, for which the park is named, even though most other trails do not actually reach it.

River trail is perhaps the park’s best for an overnight backpacking trip (permit required), and you can camp on a sandy beach beside the Congaree River. Be prepared for more difficult conditions on River Trail than on some others in the park. It is mostly flat, but the difficulty comes in sections that are overgrown, muddy, or flooded. Pay close attention to navigation, and be prepared to find short detours where necessary.

Source: https://www.nps.gov/cong/planyourvisit/trail-information.htm



Hiking along trails with some uneven terrain and small hills. Small rocks and roots may be present.

Medium Exposure

2 out of 4

The trail contains some obstacles such as outcroppings and rock which could cause injury.


3 out of 4

Little chance of being seen or helped in case of an accident.

Best time to visit

all year round


  • Wildlife
  • Historical
  • Picturesque
  • Dog friendly
  • Wild flowers
  • Water features
  • Family friendly
  • Forestry or heavy vegetation

Similar routes nearby

Guidebooks in this area