Hiking in the fall, in SC, is really the best time (early spring too). The weather is cool, the bugs are virtually gone, and other people are busy.
This time we went to the Congaree National Park. It's free (fits our budget at the moment) but we're always trying to get the girls out and doing something beyond suburbia. The Congaree swamp apparently is one of the last areas of the country that resembles the south (from Virginia on down) from the old days. These are some of the places Swamp Fox, and others, hid in during the Revolutionary War. We learned about all sorts of plants, and how muck filters pollution, and guts help flooding in the swamp. All of the girls now know about Cypress Knees, and saw the 2nd tallest loblolly pine in the nation (the tallest is somewhere else in the swamp).
We chose the easy boardwalk (2.25 miles) because we haven't been there before, and Blondie can't do certain kinds of hikes without me hovering. Both little girls were troopers and walked right along looking for labels for the self-guided tour. Blondie noticed the markers on the trees and announced those for quite awhile. They were both amazed at the pictures of the flooded swamp and how it covers the boardwalk we were on, and how the moss on the Tupelo trees indicates the water line at times.
We are definitely going back to check out the lake, and river, and try one of their canoe tours. Next time we may try the 4-6 mile hike and see how the little girls do (it isn't all on the boardwalk). Photos courtesy of Brian.