Are you thinking hiking in Columbia would great way to get outdoors with your family? It’s time to dust off the hiking boots, get out the bug spray, and maybe even find a hiking stick or two because we’ve got a fantastic list of the best hiking trails all around Columbia, SC! No matter what your fitness level is or how long of an adventure you’re willing to go on, we’ve got you covered!
Helpful Tips for Hiking
While hiking is a fantastic way to get outdoors and spend quality time with your family, please be aware that some of these trails are not suitable for wagons, strollers, or small kiddos! As always, be cautious of your surroundings, plan your route, and never approach wildlife. If you’re planning a hike that is a bit more treacherous or nature-filled, having a compass or map with you is never a bad idea. Remember, cell phones don’t always have service!
What to Bring Along on Your Hike
We recommend hiking boots or tennis shoes and bug spray for ALL of these trails. It is always a great idea to wear tall socks, long pants, and/or long-sleeve shirts on the non-paved hikes listed below. Some other items you should think about bringing along include:
- Water and water bottles
- Sun hat
- Compass or map beside your phone
Get Those Kids Outside!
Research has shown so much benefit in getting kids outdoors. And, it’s good for us parents, too! Here are some of the benefits of outdoor time for kids, plus some ideas about how to fit it into your busy days.
Paved Hiking Trails in Columbia, SC
Paved hiking trails are perfect for families who need strollers, have younger kiddos, or that want to bring along bicycles, roller blades, or other ride-on toys!
About: Right along the beautiful Congaree River, you will find the Cayce Riverwalk. There are so many things to discover along this trail – history, wooden carved artwork, restrooms, benches and seating perfect for snacks or enjoying lunch, and more! This walkway is perfect for families with strollers and small kiddos. Although the entire trail is quite long, you can make your outing as long or short as you’d like!
Length: 12 miles
Address: Main Entrance – 201 Naples Avenue, Cayce, SC 29033
Secondary Entrance – Intersection of State Street and Lyle Street.
Columbia Canal and Broad River Trail
About: Although this trail can be busy and popular, especially when the weather is nice, it is a great place to take your whole family for some easy exercise and fresh air. You will have great views of the river all along the path as well as some areas with shade, benches, and picnic tables. The trail is paved and open for walking as well as biking, skating, backpacking, and more! If you’re looking for a bit more of a scenic, natural hike, there is a path through the woods that can be found near the ranger station!
Length: 5.9 miles
Address: 312 Laurel Street., Columbia, SC 29201
About: The Saluda Riverwalk is an extremely family-friendly, paved walking trail that runs along the Saluda River! Along with walking and exercise, you can also fish, canoe, kayak, float, and splash in the river. There are several places that have rocks that stick up in the water that you can walk across or even dip your toes in. If you plan to walk the whole trail, it will take about 2.5 to 3 hours. This trail is suitable for strollers and has restrooms, benches, and picnic tables all throughout. We hope you and your family get to enjoy the beautiful and fun riverwalk atmosphere!
Length: 7.3 miles
Address: Candi Lane, Columbia, SC 29210
The Best Natural Hiking Trails Around Columbia, SC
Guignard Clay Quarry Loop
About: If you’re okay with getting a little muddy and want a trail that is full of nature, this one is for you! The Guignard Clay Quarry Trail runs through old pits that were once used for finding and harvesting clay, but have now filled with water and become ponds. The trail is narrow in several areas and can be a bit muddy, especially after rain. We recommend wearing appropriate shoes (maybe that are waterproof), pants or long-sleeves because of potential overgrowth, and plenty of bug spray. Parts of this loop runs through and near swamp land. That being said, BEWARE of potential snakes and alligators. This trail is most suitable for adults and older children.
Length: 2.5-mile loop
Difficulty: Easy – Moderate
Address: 634 Old State Road, Cayce, SC 29033
Forty Acre Rock Heritage Preserve
About: The Forty Acre Rock Heritage Preserve is a National Natural Landmark with so much to discover. With a little over an hour’s drive from Columbia, here you will find waterfalls, waterslides, caves, wildlife, and of course, the huge, 14-acre rock! The main trail takes you through the forest and up to the large rock where you will have an incredible view all around. Once on top of the rock, there are several other trails that you can follow that will take you all throughout the 2,965-acre preserve. Be aware that signage is sparse so it is a good idea to plan your routes in advance and know where you’ll be going. We recommend wearing hiking boots or tennis shoes that have a good “grip” on them as the famous rock and other terrain can become wet, slippery, and uneven in some places.
Length: 1.7 miles to rock, additional trails throughout the preserve
Difficulty: Moderate – Challenging
Address: 2207 Conservancy Road, Kershaw, SC 29067
Peachtree Rock Heritage Preserve
About: This hiking trail is arguably one of the best in the Columbia area! With so many animals, plants, history, and unique geology to discover, you’ve got to give it a try! Peachtree Rock Heritage Preserve is most known for its famous “big rock”. With the shape of an upside-down pyramid given to it by the ocean water receding hundreds of years ago. Sadly, the “big rock” has now fallen down and lays on its side. However, there is a smaller version of it, known as “Little Peachtree rock”, that is still standing and can be found within the preserve. A small waterfall can also be found along the trail!
Length: 7.5 miles of trails
Address: 883 Peachtree Rock Road, Lexington, SC 29073
Columbia, SC: Hiking Trails Within Parks
Congaree National Park Hiking Trails
About: About 30 minutes outside of downtown Columbia, you will find Congaree National Park. There are SO MANY wonderful walking trails and wildlife to discover here! Most of the paths are flat, but some also include small hills. The trails all vary in difficulty and length ranging from less than 1 mile to over 11 miles. Most trails begin at the Harry Hampton Visitor Center.
Length: Less than 1 mile up to over 11 miles, depending on the trail
Difficulty: They have easy, moderate, and difficult trails available
Address: 100 National Park Road, Hopkins, SC 29061
Dreher Island State Park Hiking Trails
At Dreher Island State Park there are 3 hiking trails for you to discover! Entrance into the park is $3 for adults, $1 for children under 15, and kids 5 and under are free.
Billy Dreher Nature Trail
About: This quick and simple trail will lead you to the historical ruins of the Billy Dreher home. The path will take you along the peninsula shoreline where you may see some wildlife such as ducks, turtles, geese, and more!
Length: 0.3 miles
Bicycle Bypass Trail
About: This is both a hiking and mountain biking trail that connects the camping area and the tackle shop. It is a wooded path, but short and manageable!
Length: 0.3 miles
Little Gap Trail
About: The Little Gap Trail will take you through the forest where you will walk up and down hills and different terrain. Here, you will have a great chance of seeing wildlife such as birds and insects. Bug spray and long pants might be a good idea for this trail!
Length: 2.1 miles
Difficulty: Moderate – Difficult
Harbison State Forest
About: Within Harbison State Forest there are more than 18 miles of hiking made up of 10 different trails. All trails are open to both foot traffic and mountain biking so be sure to stay aware of your surroundings!
Length: Varies based on trail
Difficulty: Anywhere from easy to difficult
Fee: $5 daily pass, $25 annual pass
Address: 5600 Broad River Road, Columbia, SC 29212
Saluda Shoals Park Hiking Trails
About: There are more than 20 walking trails all throughout Saluda Shoals Park. The majority of these trails are made of dirt and natural terrain, however, there are 3 that are paved:
- Cattail Connector Trail
- Entrance Trial
- Greenway Trail
All trails are under 3 miles long, with most of them being under 1 mile. Even though the trails are short, they are all connected so it is easy to make your journey as short or as long as you wish!
Length: Varies depending on the trail – most are under 1 mile long
Difficulty: Trails range from easy to moderate
Address: 5605 Bush River Road, Columbia, SC 29212
Sesquicentennial State Park Hiking Trails
To enter Sesqui, there is a fee of $6 for adults, $3.50 for children ages 15 and under, and children under 5 are free. There are three great hiking trails to discover within Sesqui State Park:
Sandhills Hiking Trail
About: This trail begins near the boathouse at Sesqui State Park and makes a loop around the lake. You will cross boardwalks and bridges along this loop and be able to see a waterfall, wildlife, and beautiful plants.
Length: 1.9-mile loop
Jackson Creek Nature Trail
About: In need of a short and sweet hike? Look no further! To find this trail, you will park in the sandy area near the boathouse and the Sandhills Trail. From the parking lot, take a right and then another right just before you cross the first bridge. On this trail, you will get a great view of the waterfall!
Length: 0.5 miles
Loop Road Trail
About: This trail is both a hiking and mountain biking trail that makes a loop around part of the park. It is usually quite popular and will take about 1.5 hours to complete. Some parts of the trail are a bit sandy with small hills, but still very manageable and suitable for all levels!
Length: 3.5-mile loop
Difficulty: Easy – Moderate
Where is your favorite place to go hiking around Columbia?
Looking for more places to hike? Check out the huge hiking guide on our sister site, Kidding Around Greenville. You’ll find trails in the Upstate, Georgia, and Western North Carolina. Here’s the Ultimate Hiking Guide.