Best Parks in Columbia, SC

Saluda Shoals Park

5605 Bush River Road + 6071 St. Andrews Rd. 803.772.1228 Visit beautiful Saluda Shoals Park, a regional 480- acre park cozied up against the Saluda River, a favorite with fly-fisherman, kayakers, walkers and bird-watchers. The paved 3.4-mile Greenway Trail meanders through a shady, wooded area along the Saluda, with benches and river views along the way. A total of 10 miles of paved and unpaved trails await! Visitors can rent men’s, women’s and youth sized Cruiser bicycles from 8:30a – 4p. Canoes, tandem kayaks and solo kayaks are offered for rent daily from 9a – 4p, ranging from 1-hour to all day rentals with boat shuttle service available (check on river conditions by calling 803-772-1228 or 803-213-2050). The park offers picnic shelters, a river observations deck and an educational center with park-related exhibits as well. Admission is just $5 per car or mini-van (includes all occupants). Larger vehicles $7 – $11. Park hours are 7am-5:30pm daily.

February 22 – Saluda Showdown Trout Tournament Anglers of all skill levels are invited to compete in this unique family friendly trout tournament on the Lower Saluda River. Whether you’re a fly fishing specialist or just a pond fishing machine, this tournament is for you. 7:30am- 11am

March 7- Shuckin’ on the Shoals Festival – Shuckin’ & Runnin’ Join our friends at Saluda Shoals Park for their expanded Shuckin’ on the Shoals Festival! This Saturday event includes a 5K Run and Family Fun Walk, live music, and food trucks followed by the VIP Shuckin’ on the Shoals Oyster Roast from 11:00 A.M.-2:00 P.M. Proceeds benefit the Saluda Shoals Foundation. 803-213-2035 Admission

Congaree National Park

100 National Park Road, Hopkins 803.776.4396 Put your hands in your pockets and keep your head on a swivel, because this tranquil stroll through South Carolina’s only National Park is truly something else. The Congaree boardwalk is more than 2 miles of flat trail that cuts through the scenic swamp. Check it out today, but don’t forget to grab a self-guided walk brochure! Come enjoy our special Prohibition Era event to learn more about this fascinating time in history as we explore what led to Prohibition and its outcomes. Jan 18 / 11am. Open 24/7, 365 days a year! 100 National Park Road 803.776.4396

Dreher Island State Park

3677 State Park Road, Prosperity 803.364.4152

  • Three islands, 348 acres and 12 miles of Lake Murray shoreline
  • Access to 50,000-acre Lake Murray; recreational water activities, nature trails & striped and largemouth bass fishing spots
  • 10 picnic shelters & 3 boat ramps w/ private boat access
  • 3 playgrounds, 3 trails & Geocaching is permitted
  • Guest cottages and campsites available
  • Admission/ Open dawn to dusk

The Palmetto Trail

The Peak to Prosperity Passage proceeds west from the Alston trailhead in Fairfield County across the impressive Broad River trestle. The view from the 1,100-foot-long bridge is spectacular, especially when bald eagles soar by. Across the river in Newberry County, the rail-trail skirts peak and cuts an easy swath through Piedmont forest to Pomaria and Prosperity. Along the passage, 14 wooden trestles span meandering Crims Creek where German immigrants settled in the 1730s. The area is known as the Dutch Fork. Check out the smart/cell phone tour while hiking to learn more about the Dutch Fork’s history and wildlife.

Sesquicentennial State Park

9564 Two Notch Rd. 8037882706

  • 1,419 acres including a 30-acre lake
  • Two mile walking trail around the lake with another 3.5 mile loop hiking and biking trail
  • Sesqui Mountain Bike Trail is 6.1 miles of singletrack through a pine forest with a fast and sandy bottom.
  • Boat rentals 9AM – 4PM
  • 2-acre dog park that is member and fee based ($25/year per dog).
  • Admission / Open: 8AM – 6PM daily (extended hours during DST)

Three Rivers Greenway

Hands down, our rivers and banks along them, are the most beautiful and striking natural asset of the Columbia area. If you enjoy a quiet walk or a bike ride, head to one of the twelve of the sections of the Greenway. New sections are added as funding and work is accomplished, including two new sections: the Boyd Sanctuary and the Saluda Riverwalk. The Saluda Riverwalk connects an area along the Saluda River with the Columbia Canal.

  • Granby Park: Park off Laurel St. behind the AFLAC building on Huger St. Offers a 2.5 mile walk along the City of Columbia side of the Broad River above the confluence with the Saluda River. 100 Catawba Cir, Columbia, SC 29201
  • Columbia Canal & Riverfront Park: Follows the banks of the Congaree River in Cayce and West Columbia. The walkway is paved and made up of boardwalks and bridges, and winds under old trees. 312 Laurel St, Columbia, SC 29201
  • West Columbia Riverwalk park & Amphitheatre: Combines a walk through the woods and over Congaree Creek with a walk along the river. Recently annexed to the Cayce Riverwalk. 109 Alexander Rd, West Columbia, SC 29169
  • Cayce Riveralk: 201 Naples Ave, Cayce, SC 29033 and 1120 Fort Congaree Trail, Cayce, SC 29033

Harbison State Forest

5500 Broad River Rd. (entrance near here) Bounded along its northeatern edge by the Broad River, Harbison Environmental Education Forest encompasses 2,137 acres of forestland only nine miles from downtown Columbia. This unique location offers over thirty one miles of roads and trails that weave through the pine and hardwood forest, crossing wandering streams and descending through leafy glades to the Broad River. Enjoy trails designed for walking, jogging, hiking, and bicycling that range fro moderately easy to difficult. A canoe lading located near the Broad River provides access for kayaks and canoes as a put in or take out from the river (be sure to complete a float plan). Parking pass: $5 daily or $25 annual. The forest is open sunrise to sunset and the office is open M-F 8 am-4:30pm.