Riverfront Park and Canal Trail

A beautiful park in downtown Columbia with a great 2.5 mile urban trail that follows the old canal route.

Located in the capital city of Columbia South Carolina is one of the nicest urban trails you will find – The Riverfront Park and Historic Canal Trail. This 2 1/2 mile paved trail is mostly flat as it parallels the historic towpath of the Columbia Canal that was briefly used in the 19th century. Today it is a wonderful trail that can be used for walking or bicycling between the old canal and the scenic Broad and Congaree Rivers. There are numerous benches, picnic tables and vistas along with informative signboards that explain the history of the canal. The trail is also fully paved making it stroller and wheelchair accessible.

Riverfront Park is a 167 acre oasis in the beautiful city of Columbia South Carolina. It is beautifully designed and maintained and, in addition to the urban trail along the old canal route, offers historic buildings, an outdoor gym, an amphitheater, and countless views of the beautiful Congaree and Broad Rivers as they pass through Columbia. It is a wonderful escape from the rush of the city that is actually located right in the middle of the city.

Riverfront Park is located at 312 Laurel Street in Columbia South Carolina. It is a very popular spot, for good reason, but it also has a very large parking area to easily accommodate a large number of visitors. You could also park at the opposite end of the canal trail if you want to. This parking area is located just off Highway 176 just before it crosses the Columbia Canal. There are very nice restroom facilities present at both ends of the trail.

To reach the trail, follow the signed path leading away and downhill from the main parking area. As you walk down to the river and canal, you will pass an informative signboard with a map and information about the park and trail. At the bottom of the hill are the restroom facilities along with an outdoor gym, the small amphitheater, the historic pump house, numerous benches, and countless views of the river and canal. You could venture no further than this area and have plenty to see. It is a beautiful city park.

The trail, however, continues just over the river and follows the canal for about 2 1/2 miles. The trail is marked every quarter of a mile, it has street lights, and is relatively flat as you enjoy views of the rivers on your left and the canal on your right. There are numerous vistas along the trail with informative plaques and even a few fixed binoculars that you can use to get close-up views of the wildlife, flowers and birds that are present along the rivers. It is a wonderful walk that ends at the canal diversion dam where there are additional restroom facilities, benches, informational plaques, and some great views of the canal and the mighty Broad River.

The additional parking area that we referenced earlier is just across the canal. It is one of the few places that offers easy access to the canal directly and also has additional picnic tables.

When you are done enjoying the area around the canal diversion dam, head back to the main parking area. If you want to change up your return walk back to the parking area, there is a short riverside path that you can take. This short paved trail is accessed via the stairs off the trail near the diversion dam. This short trail is only about 1/3 of the distance back to the parking area and will return to the main trail just past the Broad River Overpass.

However you choose to experience Riverfront Park, we are fairly confident that you are going to enjoy this beautiful city park and urban trail.

Leave a Comment