Harbison State Forest

Oma H. Barnett

Harbison State Forest is a unique public green space within the city limits of Columbia, South Carolina. Located just nine miles north of downtown, the 2,200 acre forest tract lies along the scenic Broad River. The forest is the largest urban green space in the Southeast and provides opportunities for recreation and environmental education. Harbison State Forest is such a quiet, peaceful area that visitors can lose track of the fact that they are in the midst of a growing urban area.

The forest is a mix of loblolly, short leaf and long leaf pines as well as a variety of hardwoods along the river basin. The terrain ranges from rolling ridges and bluffs to bottomland along the Broad River. More than 18 miles of roads and trails are designated for walking, jogging, hiking, and mountain biking. The trails range from easy to difficult. Mountain biking is allowed only on designated trails, and permits are required. The Discovery Trail and the Learning Trail have nature exhibits promoting responsible land management. There are outdoor classrooms along these trails as well. The Cooked Pine Trail is a moderately difficult trail leading to a vernal or seasonal pond. The Stewardship Trail leads hikers down to the Broad River. Mountain biking is allowed on Firebreak Trail, Midlands Mountain Multiple Use Trail, Lost Creek Trail and Spider Woman II Trail. They are among the longest trails in the park and have the most difficult terrain, with some steep climbs and rocky areas to traverse.

A canoe landing on the Broad River provides access for canoes and kayaks. This section of the river has quiet water with virtually no rapids. It is a popular section for rowers, kayakers, and canoeists. River users are required to file a basic float plan at the Education Center.

The Harbison Environmental Educational Center is used for educational programs related to the ecosystems of the forest. Visitors may view exhibits and displays in the building. A variety of workshops, conferences, and teacher training days are held at the facility throughout the year. Outside the Education Center visitors may see a fire tower and a working sawmill. Other facilities at Harbison State Forest include two large picnic shelters, restrooms, and open fields for play.

Harbison State Forest is located at 5500 Broad River Road. It is easily accessed off I-26 at Harbison Road. Daily parking passes are $5 per vehicle, payable at the onsite fee boxes in the parking lot.

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