The Midlands’ guide to the best fall foliage

Saluda riverwalk | Photo via @steven_corbett_photography

In case the cooler temps haven’t yet given it away, fall has made its way to Columbia. And, before we know it, it will be time for the leaves to change to pretty shades of yellow, orange and red before they fall from the trees. 🍂

South Carolina’s warmer fall temperatures (compared to most of the country) typically mean the leaves change color a little later here. However, that doesn’t mean we can’t still enjoy the season. According to this fall foliage map, South Carolina can expect to see the leaves change from early October to late November, with the peak of the changes between late October and early November. 

We’ve broken down some of the best, Insta-worthy spots to escape to nature + witness the gorgeous phenomenon when it begins. Whether you want to stay within city limits, or make a day trip out of it, check out some of our favorite locations to eye the foliage.

If getting outdoors + taking a hike is up your alley, check out our hiking guide for more fall foliage-viewing ideas.

Disclaimer: Be sure to check park websites for hours, closures and COVID-19 updates before heading out.

Table of Contents

Nearby Columbia 

📍 UofSC Horseshoe for a no-hiking-involved optionpack a picnic + pick a spot under a tree to take in the peaceful fall weather. | 902 Sumter St.

📍 Saluda Riverwalk for a river-front walk along the rapids and islands of the Saluda. | 650 Candi Ln. 

📍 Sesquicentennial State Park for a relaxing jaunt around the lake + optional waterfall views. | 9564 Two Notch Rd. | 🚗: ~20min from downtown Columbia

📍 Congaree National Park for wheelchair and stroller-accessible trails through the champion trees. | 100 National Park Rd., Hopkins, SC | 🚗: ~25min from downtown Columbia


📍 Table Rock State Park for fall foliage that reflects off the lake (and the option of a strenuous 7+ mile hike). | 158 E. Ellison Ln., Pickens, SC | 🚗: ~2hr 15min from downtown Columbia

📍 The Biltmore for fall foliage views surrounded by the Blue Ridge Mountains and accompanied by a sip of wine. | 1 Lodge St., Asheville, NC | 🚗: ~2hr 30min from downtown Columbia

📍 Keowee-Toxaway State Park for views of fall trees that reflect on Lake Keowee. Turn the trek into an overnight trip at the park’s rental cabins. | 108 Residence Dr., Sunset, SC | 🚗: ~2hr 30min from downtown Columbia

📍 Mount Mitchell State Park to ride (or hike) your way to the highest peak east of the Mississippi River + witness 360º views. | 2388 NC-128 Burnsville, NC | 🚗: ~3hr 15min from downtown Columbia


Do you have a favorite spot we didn’t include? Shoot us an email – we want to know.