view of downtown Columbia from Finlay Park

Relocation Guides for Columbia, South Carolina

Outdoor Recreation Around Town

The Rivers

The Saluda and the Broad Rivers meet in a rush of rapids churning over giant boulders, then mellow out to form the tranquil Congaree River. One can get a true appreciation of the beauty of this area by walking along the riverbanks.  There is so much you can do on or around the rivers, from kayaking and canoeing to walking and biking!  Walking trails and parks provide easy access along both sides of the rivers.


The Saluda River

Riverbanks Zoo & Garden

Natural river views and valley overlooks along the Garden’s Woodlands Walk and River Trail create a scenic path to historic ruins from the 1800s, the site of South Carolina's first water-powered textile mill.  A river overlook is at the bottom of the paved hillside path, where rapids and very wild river scenery can be viewed.  Enter at the Botanical Garden entrance at 1300 Botanical Parkway just off US Highway 378 at I-20 and I-26 in West Columbia.  803. 779.8717. Admission.

Saluda Shoals

Saluda Shoals Park is a premier, natural, environmentally sensitive riverfront park that invites visitors to experience the treasures of the Saluda River through exceptional educational, recreational and cultural opportunities. Located along the banks of the beautiful Saluda River, this 400 acre regional park offers visitors paved and unpaved trails for hiking, biking and horseback riding; a river observation deck; a boat ramp/canoe & kayak launch; picnic shelters. Daily admission is just $5 per car or mini-van or an annual parking pass is $45. Barking Lot (dogs) passes, fisherman passes and horse trail passes are also sold.

5605 Bush River Road in NW Columbia.

More at or 803-731-5208

Children learning at Saluda Shoals Park

Also at Saluda Shoals Park:

SC Bluebird Trail

This research program at Saluda Shoals Park is designed to track the number of Eastern Bluebirds that reside in the park. Data is collected on the bluebirds that nest in bluebird boxes, lay eggs, hatch and fledge their young. Collected data is sent to Cornell University’s Ornithology Laboratory. Due to the success of the Bluebird Trail, guests at Saluda Shoals can visit the park and have a great chance to observe these beautiful birds in a natural setting.  5605 Bush River Road Columbia.


The Broad River

Riverfront Park and Historic Columbia Canal

This is a great place to walk on its 2 1/2 mile trail, much of it paved. Historic buildings, lookout points and resting benches make this park and interesting and relaxing way to enjoy the Broad River.  The entrance to Riverfront Park & Historic Columbia Canal is located at the foot of  Laurel St. off Huger Street downtown.  Free.

Harbison State Forest

18 miles of trails designed for walking, jogging, hiking and bicycling and range from moderately easy to difficult. Located off Broad River Road in Harbison.  Admission.


The Congaree River

Three Rivers Greenway: Free Admission

Cayce Riverwalk and Extension

Bridges, boardwalks, overlooks, bank fishing, and 1 1/2  miles of lighted central paths accommodate all levels of physical access including baby carriages and wheelchairs. The main entrance is off Axtell Drive,  however bicycle and pedestrian access is provided from Knox Abbott Drive as well as State Street. Cayce.

West Columbia Riverwalk

In addition to its lighted paved paths which follow the river, this section of the Three Rivers Greenway also features an amphitheater for concerts and events, picnic tables and restrooms. Parking lot is on the west side of the Gervais Street Bridge (US 1) in West Columbia. 

Granby Park

24 acres at the end of Catawba Street off Huger Street with wonderful views of the river. Bridges, boardwalks, overlooks, and a half mile of lighted central paths to accommodate all levels of physical access including baby carriages and wheelchairs. Granby Park offers off path trails for mountain bikes and runners as well.

Special Parks

Saluda Shoals

Saluda Shoals Park is a premier, natural, environmentally sensitive riverfront park that invites visitors to experience the treasures of the Saluda River through exceptional educational, recreational and cultural opportunities. Located along the banks of the beautiful Saluda River, this 400 acre regional park offers the following amenities–

11,000-square-foot Environmental Education Center and Exhibit Hall

10,000 square-foot state-of-the-art conference facility, the River Center

Administrative Offices for the Irmo Chapin Recreation Commission

Paved/unpaved trails for hiking, biking and horseback riding

River Observation Deck

Boat Ramp/Canoe/Kayak Launch

Picnic Shelters

Crooked Creek Park

Crooked Creek Park is a state-of-the-art recreation complex that opened in 1994 to serve the Chapin portion of the Irmo Chapin Recreation District. The park quickly became an integral part of the Chapin community and serves as a recreational and social hub for Chapin residents.

Crooked Creek Park offers a wide variety of recreational, cultural, instructional and social activities, and hosts visitors of all ages throughout the day. The park offers users many fun and recreational outlets including:

53,000 square-foot Community Center with full gymnasium, racquetball courts, fitness areas, indoor walking track and meeting rooms

Six Athletic Fields

Six Tennis Courts

Picnic Facilities

Paved/Unpaved Walking Trails


Seven Oaks Park

Built in 1973 and located at 200 Leisure Lane in the St. Andrews area, Seven Oaks Park (SOP) is a full-service recreation complex offering fitness, athletics, and instructional and cultural arts programs to the Irmo community.  Seven Oaks Park’s special events, recreation programs, and volunteer opportunities are designed for youth, adults, seniors and persons with special needs.

Located near the intersection of St. Andrews and Piney Grove Roads, this community center offers visitors the following amenities:

30,000 square-foot facility with full gymnasium, fitness area, dance studio, art studio, art gallery and meeting rooms.

Nine Athletic Fields

Six Tennis Courts

Paved Walking Trails

Picnic Shelters


Community Garden

Maxcy Gregg Park

Maxcy Gregg Park celebrated its 100th birthday and a facelift last fall. Maxcy Gregg dwindled in size over the years as property was given to USC and to the federal government, but is now better than ever as final construction restores this piece of Columbia’s history. A paved outer path, central crossing trails, new landscaping and a new pedestrian bridge connecting to parking area are some of the latest improvements! 1806 Blossom Street.

Harbison Lake

Nestled in residential Columbia, Harbison Lake trails take you along shaded paths, passing by backyards of homes, encircling two small lakes, and passing through a wilderness wildlife habitat. A variety of birds and animals live in this area, most notably the large numbers of ducks and geese you will see as you walk the lake trail. Free admission. 106 Hillpin Road.

Dreher Island State Park

Located on Lake Murray, there's much to do at this wonderful state park. Enjoy fishing several types of bass, take a leisurely boat ride, or pack a picnic and enjoy the fresh air under one of the 13 shelters. In addition, you can enjoy the playground, take a relaxing walk along the ¼-mile Billy Dreher Nature Trail, or experience the moderate 2.1 mile hike along the Little Gap Trail. Admission charged. 3677 State Park Road, Prosperity, SC.

Lake Wateree State Park

This site is located on beautiful Lake Murray, just waiting to be enjoyed! Chill out and take a swim, go camping, take a hike, or take advantage of public fishing access or their public boat ramp! Whatever you do, Lake Murray is the perfect place to relax and be alone or gather your friends and hang out away from the city. Admission charged. 881 State Park Road, Winnsboro, SC.

Congaree National Park

Congaree is a great way to enjoy some fresh air and experience 'hiking and paddling.' Ranger-guided hikes and canoe trips can be reserved, or take a jog around the 2.5 mile boardwalk loop. Limited primitive and back-country camping are also available. Best thing about Congaree National Park? Everything is FREE! 100 National Park Road Hopkins, SC.

Congaree National Park
Photo by Congaree National Park
Sesquicentennial State Park

Situated in the middle of the Sandhills region, Sesqui features a beautiful 30-acre lake surrounded by trails and picnic areas! Check out the 3.5 mile Loop Road Trail, the 1.9 mile Sandhills Hiking Trail, the 0.4 mile Jackson Creek Nature Trail and the 6.1 mile Mountain Bike Trail. 9564 Two Notch Road.

Finlay Park in Downtown Columbia

The Finlay facility is located at the top of beautiful Finlay Park overlooking the more than 18 acres of  green space including a 1.8 acre lake and waterfall with 180 degree views of Columbia’s entire skyline from any seat in the half circle shaped structure. An adjacent outside deck area is ideal for additional entertainment use. 

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Frisbee Golf

Earlewood Park

Offers a disc-golf course that weaves through towering pines, majestic oaks, and a creek. Elevation on nearly every hole. 1111 Parkside Dr. Columbia.  Free.

Seven Oaks Park

Features a disc-golf course where a variety of holes are laid out in a lightly wooded flat area.  Large trees and open grassed fairways make this a great course to learn the game.

200 Leisure Lane. Columbia. Free.

Canoe and Kayak Rentals

Canoes, tandem and solo kayaks are available for rent daily from 10:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m. This is a great way to get outdoors and enjoy the peaceful beauty of the Saluda River. Boat rentals are handled at the Environmental Education Center in Saluda Shoals Park. Rentals include all necessary equipment. Boats and equipment must be returned to the boat launch area by 5:00 p.m. for check-in by park staff.

Call 803-731-5208 for information.

Fees: $38 for 3-Hours

$48 All Day Rental

Shuttle Service $23 1-hour (only on weekends): $10 per boat Shuttles pick up at 1:00 P.M. and 4:00 P.M. daily.

Guided Canoe and Kayak Trips

Join us on an exciting guided river trip and see nature at its best. The trip lasts approximately three hours and includes brief paddling instruction before leaving Saluda Shoals Park. Enjoy interpretation along the way and a possible stop at Corley Island before arriving at the Gardendale landing. If the river conditions are conducive, the guide will initially lead your party upstream, to hopefully catch a glimpse of the resident Bald Eagles.

· All equipment and return shuttle service are included.

·Private Guided trips can also be scheduled (3 person minimum).

·48-hour advance reservations required.

Ages 5 to adult.

Book your trip by calling the Environmental Education Center at 803-213-2053.

Fees: $40R/$53NR.

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