#Voices: 10 must-try hiking trails in S.C.
When you think of great hiking, South Carolina probably doesn’t come to mind – but it should. S.C. has 400+ hiking trails across the state, offering something for every type of hiker – whether you want to see cool waterfalls or you want to rack up some serious miles. At Girls Who Hike S.C., we encourage all women to check out the hiking fun S.C. has to offer.
Our top 10 trail recommendations:
🏞 Congaree National Park Trails | 📍 Hopkins, S.C. | 🚘 30 minutes from Cola | 👟 Trail Distance: Various | Difficulty: Easy
Best Features: This is the only National Park in South Carolina. It features the largest intact, old growth bottomland hardwood forest remaining in the Southeast, so it’s like walking back in time. All trails start at the visitors center and are well-marked. Once you leave the boardwalk you will encounter a lot of fallen trees. So, although the altitude doesn’t change, you’ll get a great hurdles workout and see some cool root systems.
🏞 S.C. Foothills Trail | 📍 Upstate, with teminuses at Oconee + Table Rock State Parks | 🚘 ~3 hours from Cola | 👟 Trail Distance: 77 miles with 14 passages | Difficulty: Easy to strenuous
Best Features: This trail is great for a day hike or overnight trips. There are several beautiful waterfalls and a section of the trail follows the S.C./N.C. state line. You also have a low chance of seeing others on the trail, so it’s a great way to enjoy nature and connect with your hiking companions.
🏞 Palmetto Trail | 📍 Statewide, with several passages in the Columbia-area | 🚘 Drive time from Cola: Various | 👟 Trail Distance: 500 miles | Difficulty: Various
Best Features: This mountain-to-sea trail goes right through downtown Columbia and it’s the only urban trail on our list. The Capital City passage is 7.5 miles and takes you through the heart of Columbia out to Fort Jackson. We also recommend the Peak to Prosperity passage where you will walk over a dozen old train trestles. This trailhead is about an hour north, in Pomaria.
🏞 Rainbow Falls | 📍 Greenville, S.C. in Jones Gap State Park | 🚘 2.5 hours from Cola | 👟 Trail Distance: 5 miles | Difficulty: Strenuous
Best Features: At the top of the trail you’re greeted by a 100-ft. waterfall. Along the way, you’ll have great views of the valley and walk along a mountain stream. One word of caution, Jones Gap is extremely popular, so get there early. It’s not uncommon for visitors to wait an hour before being allowed to enter the park, but once you’re on trail, you won’t regret the wait.
🏞 Forks Area Trail System | 📍 Clarks Hill, S.C. | 🚘 ~1 hour from Cola | 👟 Trail Distance: Total 37 miles | Difficulty: Easy to moderate
Best Features: This is another diverse trail system and part of the Sumter National Forest (read: hidden gem). These trails crisscross all over the hills overlooking the Savannah River. Think of these hills as the perfect training ground for more vertical hikes.
🏞 Peachtree Rock Heritage Preserve | 📍 Lexington, S.C. | 🚘 30 mins from Cola | 👟 Trail Distance: 7.5 miles | Difficulty: Easy
Best Features: This 306-acre refuge is dedicated to the protection of some unique sandstone formations. The most famous, Peachtree Rock, looked like a precariously balanced overturned pyramid before it toppled over last year. Just north of Peachtree Rock and you will see the only naturally occurring waterfall in the Midlands, a 20-ft. drop into Hunt Creek. Pictured below is Little Peachtree Rock.
🏞 Raven Rock Loop Trail | 📍 Sunset, S.C., in Keowee-Toxaway State Park | 🚘 ~2.5 hours from Cola | 👟 Trail Distance: 4.2 miles | Difficulty: Moderate
Best Features: This is a great quick getaway hike. The trail starts out easily and crosses the Poe creek over a natural granite bridge. The next section is uphill through a boulder field topping out and dropping into a steep valley. You climb out to the top of the ridge and generally ridge walk until the descent to Lake Jocassee.
Best Features: This is an arduous, wooded trail that follows the N.C./S.C. state line from the peak of Sassafras Mountain to Caesars Head State Park. The trail is worth it, though, as it features wonderful views from Sassafras Mountain (the highest peak in S.C.) and Raven Cliff Falls.
🏞 Awendaw Passage – Palmetto Trail | 📍 Awendaw, S.C. | 🚘 ~2 hours from Cola | 👟 Trail Distance: 7.1 miles | Difficulty: Easy
Best Features: You’ll pass through maritime forests and sweeping vistas of Lowcountry salt marsh along Awendaw Creek. At Walnut Grove, look for a scenic overlook and boardwalk.
🏞 Wannamaker North Trail | 📍 North Charleston, S.C. | 🚘 1.5 hours from Cola | 👟 Trail Distance: 13 miles | Difficulty: Easy
Best Features: This 13-mile trail is designed for + open to mountain bicyclists of all experience levels. The trail is also open to hikers, walkers and runners.
Girls Who Hike started two years ago + spread to S.C. last fall. We are helping hundreds of women across S.C. hit the trail by hosting official hikes every month + connecting members to other hiking-minded women. Here in Columbia, we are also partnering with Half Moon Outfitters to host a Women’s Hiking 101 Class Feb. 24.
Learn more about any of these 10 trails on S.C.’s official trail guide.
–Kailani, Stacy, LeAnn + Tara, Girls Who Hike SC Ambassadors