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.
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