There is a restorative power to this haunting place. Far removed from the trappings of civilization, one can find order in the cosmos and enjoy the simple pleasure of serenity. In the swamp, it's just you and Mother Nature's disparaged few.
Here are five spectacular paddling destinations to experience the mysteries of the swamp:
Once used to flood the rice fields of Dean Hall Plantation, this 80-acre blackwater swamp features an easy-to-follow self-guided water trail that takes you through wide expanses of lily pads and under picturesque footbridges. The $10 admission to the gardens includes free use of a flat-bottom wooden boat. If you'd rather have a guide paddle you around, it's just $5.
Owned and managed by the National Audubon Society, this ancient forest is located within the Four Holes Swamp. Guided canoe tours are offered in the spring when the water level in the floodplain is high enough to paddle among the 1,000-year-old cypress trees. Trips are $20 for two hours, $30 for four hours.
Boasting the largest remaining tract of old-growth bottomland hardwood forest in the United States, Congareee National Park features bald cypress trees, some with circumferences as big as 26-plus feet and "knees" reaching 7.5 feet. A 20-mile canoe trail runs through Cedar Creek, a slow-moving blackwater tributary that flows through the floodplain. If you don't have your own boat, sign up for a free ranger-guided canoe tour.