What’s so great about winter hikes? Columbia, SC offers lots of places to get out and enjoy the outdoors on a hike, and the surrounding area particularly towards the mountains brings beautiful winter hiking opportunities just a day trip away. This winter hiking guide will help you choose your winter hiking destination and pack your bag so you’re prepared for a fun adventure.
What You’ll See & Why Winter is Great for Hiking
Why should we go hike in the winter, anyway?
Expect to see things as you haven’t before. Fewer leaves on the trees means that you can see through them for a view usually hidden. Expect to walk along trails that feel much more open, and expect more lookout stops and panoramic mountain views, even from the valley trails.
What you won’t see many of? Bugs. And snakes (usually). And while it’s colder and you’ll want to layer up (more on that later), you also won’t be dripping sweat and hiking through summer humidity. That right there makes winter hiking a lovely alternative.
Take a peek at winter hiking
Spoiler alert: It’s gorgeous
Winter Hiking Tips
- Bring water and snacks. It can be tempting to bring less water when it’s cooler but don’t. It’s better to have too much than not enough, and the dryer winter air will make you thirsty!
- Consider bringing hot chocolate in a thermos. The tasty treat will taste even better accompanied by gorgeous views, well earned. And, it can work as a bit of an encouragement for little legs that might want to stop hiking before the end of the trail!
- Pack a first-aid kit and emergency supplies. Chapstick, hand warmers, and an emergency blanket are what we’d pack on a mountain winter hike.
- Dress in layers. Start with a tank or t-shirt, layered with something long-sleeved and then a jacket on top of that.
- Wear or bring hats, gloves, and wool socks.
Winter Hikes: Close to Columbia
If you want to find panoramic mountain views you’ll want to head up towards the Upstate of South Carolina for your winter hike. But if you can’t dedicate a whole day to your adventure, there are still several spots for winter hiking right in and near Columbia.
Pick a place on our Columbia Hiking Guide. Any of those trails can be enjoyed in the cooler winter temperatures.
If that’s too many choices, we recommend one of these three spots!
Peachtree Rock Heritage Preserve
Enjoy the open forest, and a waterfall when you hike the trail at the Peachtree Rock Heritage Preserve.
Harbison State Forest
There are over 20 miles of hiking and biking trails in Harbison State Forest, including and ADA-accessible trail so everyone can enjoy a winter trail hike together.
Sesquicentennial State Park
Enjoy a light hike around the lake at Sesquicentennial State Park. In the winter you’ll avoid insects and humidity, and likely enjoy a much less crowded park. The trail is only half a mile, so the whole family can enjoy it together.
Winter Hikes Near the Upstate
For a longer winter hike in the mountains, you’ll want to plan a day trip to the Upstate.
Check out these 7 Winter Hikes Near Greenville, SC for lots of options or try one of these favorite spots.
In winter, the strenuous trail offers an incredible view. While the hike to the top of Table Rock is tough, it’s definitely more doable in the cooler temperatures. The panoramic view is a huge pay-off.
If temperatures are below freezing, we do not recommend going to the top since the steps to Governors Rock will be frozen over. Instead, hike the Carrick Creek loop.
Crowders Mountain is near Kings Mountain on the SC/NC border, about 2 hours from Columbia. You can do a five-mile moderate loop trail that gives you incredible views in winter. We could even see Charlotte from the top!
Visit our Winter Guide to Columbia for lots more ideas and winter fun!