At a time when you can take in any of nature’s most awe-inspiring views with the click of a mouse – think of a 360-degree scene from the top of a mountain – there’s something particularly thrilling about investing some sweat equity into the process and getting there on your own.
Ready to, literally, take that first step toward a hike? This is the week to do it. Saturday, June 3 is National Trails Day, an annual event organized by the American Hiking Society.
All across South Carolina, park rangers and volunteers are encouraging muscle-powered outdoor adventure with guided hikes and other park activities.
Here are a few favorite trails, most within a two-hour drive from Columbia, most in state parks. Don’t forget bug spray, water and good walking shoes.
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Sesquicentennial State Park
Just three miles from downtown, Sesqui is an urban oasis crisscrossed by two hiking trails, a nature path and a 6-mile mountain bike trail. At 9 a.m. Saturday, June 3, join a park ranger for a guided 2-mile hike on the Sandhills Hiking Trail, a flat, boardwalk-strewn path that crosses wetlands and offers pretty views of a waterfall.
Rivers Bridge State Historic Site
Join rangers at 9 and 9:30 a.m. Saturday, June 3 for hourlong guided hikes through this Ehrhardt-area park, which is bordered by a river and a creek. It is home to a preserved Civil War battlefield, a museum and several cemeteries.
Chester State Park
Circling the park’s 160-acre lake and cutting through shady pine forest, the nature trails within Chester State Park stay cool and comfortable as they offer views of the mirror-clear water and the resident bald eagles.
Winding through 13 South Carolina counties on its way from the mountains to the coast, the 350-mile Palmetto Trail provides a unique perspective into the state’s diverse ecosystems. There are dozens of great segments for one-day hikes. There’s a short hike in Poinsett State Park, and the hilly 16.2-mile Fort Jackson Passage winds through sand hills and Army training centers.
Anne Springs Close Greenway
Forty miles of trails wind through the Anne Springs Close Greenway, a 2,100-acre preserve in Fort Mill. From 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday, June 3, the park will offer guided hikes and other activities to celebrate National Trails Day.
More on the parks
For more information about South Carolina state parks, visit www.southcarolinaparks.com