The Harbison State Forest is a unique public green space within the city limits of Columbia, South Carolina. The 2200-acre woodland is just 14 kilometers north of downtown on the scenic Broad River. The forest is the largest urban green space in the southeast and offers opportunities for recreation and environmental education. The Harbison State Forest is such a quiet and peaceful area that visitors can lose sight of the fact that they are in the middle of a growing urban area.
The forest is a mix of loblolly, short and long leaf pines and a variety of hardwoods along the river basin. The terrain ranges from gentle ridges and steep slopes to the groundlands along the Broad River. More than 30 km of roads and paths are provided for walking, jogging, hiking and mountain biking. The trails range from easy to difficult. Mountain biking is permitted only on designated trails and requires a permit. The Discovery Trail and the Learning Trail offer nature exhibits for responsible land management. There are also outdoor classrooms along these paths. The Cooked Pine Trail is a moderately difficult trail that leads to a spring-like or seasonal pond. The stewardship trail leads hikers down to the Broad River. Mountain biking is permitted on the Firebreak Trail, the Midlands Mountain Multiple Use Trail, the Lost Creek Trail and the Spider Woman II Trail. They are among the longest paths in the park and have the most difficult terrain with some steep climbs and rocky areas to cross.
A canoe landing on the Broad River provides access for canoes and kayaks. This section of the river has calm waters without rapids. It is a popular area for rowers, kayakers and canoeists. River users must submit a Basic Float Plan to the Education Center.
The Harbison Environmental Educational Center is used for educational programs related to forest ecosystems. Visitors can visit exhibits and displays in the building. Throughout the year there are various workshops, conferences and teacher days in the facility. Outside the education center, visitors can see a fire tower and a working sawmill. Other facilities in the Harbison State Forest include two large picnic areas, toilets and open fields.
The Harbison State Forest is located at 5500 Broad River Road. It is easily accessible via I-26 on Harbison Road. Daily parking permits cost $ 5 per vehicle and are payable at the toll booths in the car park.