Pets allowed
Allowed
Guided tours
No
Backcountry camping
No
Lodging
No
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

Just outside of Columbia lies a surprising expanse of forested hills and a maze of trails among them. This is Harbison State Forest, one of the largest metropolitan area greenspaces in the Southeast at 2,137 acres. Columbia residents are lucky to have this outdoor playland so close, especially because of the variety and quality of trails that it offers. Relative to the rest of the Midlands, the terrain here is actually quite diverse with high bluffs, steep slopes, rocky banks, creekbeds, and floodplains. Trails are open to hikers, runners, and mountain bikers, but certain routes cater specifically to bikes.

Eighteen miles of trail lie within the park and come in various difficulties. Beginning mountain bikers will want to start on any of the shorter, flatter trails like Eagle Trail or a portion of Firebreak. Intermediates will want longer and twistier rides like Lost Creek, Stewardship, all of Firebreak Trail, or the Midland Mountains Loop. Experts should take on the the Midland Mountains cutoff route, Bluff Trail, and Spider Woman II. The latter is an especially challenging trail for the region. It is all singletrack with technical climbs and descents, rock gardens, tight turns, and log obstacles. At all times remember that you are sharing these trails with other users, so be respectful and safe. Dogs are allowed on the trails if they are kept on a leash.

There is a $5 daily fee (or $25 annually) for use of the forest. This is self-payable at kiosks in the main parking area. The gate is open 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily, and use of the forest is permitted only during these hours. A few dirt roads lead farther into the forest and to alternate trailheads, but these may only be open on weekends. If these secondary gates are closed while the main gate is open, you can still walk or ride along the road to any other trailheads, but not drive.

The main parking area has restrooms, drinking water, and a picnic area. Trash cans are not available anywhere, however, so remember to pack out what you pack in.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Winter
Spring
Summer
Fall

Congestion

Moderate

Parking Pass

General Day Use Fee

Open Year-round

Yes

Pros

Multi-use trails. Varied terrain.

Cons

Limited hours. Limited views of the river.

Features

Mountain biking
Picnic tables
Covered picnic areas
Family friendly
Flushing toilets
Potable water
Near lake or river
Wildflowers
Wildlife
Bicycling

Location

Field Guide

Nearby Lodging + Camping

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