Marie McAden



Congaree offers guided hikes for pooches and their people

Posted 4/9/2013 1:27:00 PM

They may be barred from the boardwalk, but dogs can still enjoy a walk in the woods at Congaree National Park. With 26,000 acres of federally protected forest, think of all the trees to be sniffed!

This spring, the park outside Columbia is adding a new enticement for pooches and their two-legged companions: free ranger-guided hikes. “Bark in the Park” walks will be offered at 2 p.m. April 13, May 4, 11 and 18.

During the 2.4-mile treks, rangers will talk about some of the other animals who enjoy romping among the park’s champion trees. Groups will be limited to 10 participants (and their pets). The best-behaved dog will take home an official “Bark Ranger” bandana.

To reserve your spot, call (803) 776-4396.

If you can’t make one of the ranger-led hikes, you can set out with Fido on your own any day of the week. Just be sure to keep your dog on a leash and stay on the dirt or gravel trails. Congaree — the only national park in South Carolina — features more than 20 miles of hiking trails in the northwestern portion of the hardwood floodplain. The only path not open to dogs is the 2.4-mile Boardwalk Loop.

You can pick up a trail map at the Harry Hampton Visitor Center, open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission to the park is free. For more information, click here or call (803) 776-4396.