July 23, 2024
Biking Columbia South Carolina - Pleasant biking along the Three Rivers Greenway Riverwalk
South Carolina State Capitol Building



Columbia, the capital of South Carolina, is located in the center of the state, roughly 120 miles inland from the Atlantic Coast. The confluence of the Broad River from the north and the Saluda from the west form the Congaree River which then flows through the heart of the city serving as a focus for the metropolitan area’s recent development of a delightful riverside park system. The Riverwalk currently runs through the cities of Columbia, West Columbia and Cayce and is actually part of a larger project called The Three Rivers Greenway . The Three Rivers Greenway has been under development for some time and much is completed although a few sections remain to be connected. You can view and download a three page map from the Three Rivers Greenway project HERE. The maps are dated 2015 but they appear to include most of the Riverwalk areas described below.

Palm Trees and Benches Along Riverwalk

Currently the Riverwalk covers a total of almost 12 miles as the Columbia section to the north along the Broad River connects with southern portions which are in the cities of West Columbia and Cayce, South Carolina along the Congaree River. The entire Columbia / West Columbia / Cayce Riverwalk runs from Broad River Canal Riverfront Park in the City of Columbia at the northern end to the Thomas Newman Public Boat Landing in Cayce at the southern end. The Riverwalk is a shared access pathway accommodating pedestrians and cyclists. It is nicely paved and well lighted with a number of security call boxes in various locations. Small public green spaces dot the riverfront and visitors will find lots of interesting viewpoints as well as picnic areas along the route.

Phone Holder & Carry Bag

Mounts On Center Bar & Post

Click To View On Amazon

Northern Riverwalk Section –

Most of the Riverwalk sections referred to and shown in the map images in this article can be found by examining Google Maps.com. The map image below shows what I’ll refer to as the “Northern Section” of the Riverwalk which is about 3.2 miles in length and is primarily in the City of Columbia. The pedestrian and bicycle path is shown in blue. It begins in the north along the eastern side of the Broad River between running between Broad River Canal Riverfront Park and Columbia Canal and Riverfront Park. The park, near the South Carolina State Museum, is just slightly south of the confluence of the Broad and the Saluda Rivers. Currently the Northern Section of the Riverwalk ends at this point and starts up again a bit further south on the western side of the river.

Columbia SC Riverwalk – North Section
Northern Riverwalk Section – Well lighted and Shaded with Spanish Moss Laden Trees

City Center “Disconnect” –

The Northern Section of the completed Riverwalk ends at Columbia Canal and Riverfront Park near the South Carolina State Museum. At that point there is a “disconnect” in the completed and paved riverwalk. From Columbia Canal and Riverfront Park, cyclists will need to ride a short distance, around 1.3 miles, on a few low traffic city streets to make the connection between the Northern (Columbia) Section of the Riverwalk and the Southern (West Columbia & Caycee) Section. This street connection, shown by the red line in the maps above and below, takes riders across the Congaree River via the Gervais Street Bridge into the City of West Columbia. The bridge is a four lane affair with considerable traffic. Fortunately the bridge also has very broad sidewalks on either side and these seemed to be the preferred riding route used by most riders which I encountered during my visit.

Gervais Street Bridge from West Columbia Riverwalk Park
Columbia / West Columbia SC Riverwalk — North / South Connection Route

Columbia City Center Exploration –

The City Center “Disconnect” offers riders the opportunity to take a break and explore the central area and features of the City of Columbia. The map below shows several sites of interest which are within easy riding distance of the Riverwalk. Columbia is generally a fairly bike friendly city. Many streets have designated bike lanes and the roads are generally wide. Staying on side streets makes it quite easy to visit the sites noted below. A tour of all the 5 locations noted below involves a ride of approximately 5 miles total, depending on the route you take.

Columbia South Carolina Visitor Sites

South Carolina State Museum –

South Carolina State Museum – photo courtesy of Karen Helland

The South Carolina State Museum (301 Gervais Street) offers numerous interesting exhibits and displays as well as a great gift shop full of items reflecting the history and culture of South Carolina.

The Lace House –

Lace House – Columbia, South Carolina

The Lace House, (800 Richland Street) built in 1854, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Described as a “double-porched Classical Revival Mansion with Italianate details,” it is surrounded by lovely gardens. It is located on a nicely shaded street with a lovely fountain, directly across the street from the Governor’s Mansion.

The South Carolina Governor’s Mansion –

South Carolina Governor’s Masion

The South Carolina Governor’s Mansion ( 800 Richland Street) and it’s 9 acre, fenced grounds sits atop Arsenal Hill near the center of Columbia.

Woodrow Wilson Family Home –

Woodrow Wilson Family Home

The Woodrow Wilson Family Home (1705 Hampton Street) was the childhood home of Woodrow Wilson, 28th President of the United States. It is now open to the public and houses The Museum of the Reconstruction Era.

South Carolina State House –

South Carolina State House

The South Carolina State House (1100 Gervais Street / Intersection of Gervais & Main Street) is surrounded by shaded walking paths and is open to visitors for tours.

Southern Belly BBQ –

I should also mention – for the adventurous or hungry cyclist – The Southern Belly BBQ restaurant located in the 5 Points area of Columbia. This BBQ shop is very near the city center area, a mere 1 mile east from the South Carolina State House at 819 Harden Street ( see the map below.) It’s a great little local spot and offers some truly excellent BBQ if I do say so. In fact, I’ve previously visited several times and have written about the experience in my article “BBQ Done Southern Style – Southern Belly BBQ” Click HERE if you would like to read about it. It’s definitely worth a visit if you’re hungry and have the time.

Southern Belly BBQ – Columbia South Carolina
Southern Belly BBQ

Southern Riverwalk Section –

The completed and paved Riverwalk pathway picks up again, following the City Center Disconnect, on the west side of the Congaree River in West Columbia at West Columbia Riverwalk Park. From there you will find a short section which goes north, under the bridge, for about 1/2 mile along the river and offers picnic tables, benches and some nice views. The main section of the Riverwalk continues on south from the Gervais Street Bridge.

Riverwalk under Gervais Street Bridge – west side Congaree River

The Southern Section of the Riverwalk proceeds southward along the Congaree as shown by the blue line on the map below. This section has numerous benches and tables as well as scenic lookout points. It’s nicely shaded and , as with the entire Riverwalk, it is well maintained with paved pathways and wooden bridges . Several access paths branch off to the west. This segment continues approximately 2.3 miles as it enters the City of Caycee, ending at Three Rivers Greenway – H.Kelly Jones Park.

Columbia SC Riverwalk – South Section

Three Rivers Greenway Park is part of Cayce’s Riverwalk system (map link). South of this park there is another short “disconnect” in the Riverwalk as it picks up again a bit further south at Cayce Riverwalk Phase 3 Access. It’s about 1 mile between these two points but it is an easy ride on quiet residential streets along Riverland Drive to New State Rd and then to Old State Road shown in red on the map below.

Columbia SC Riverwalk – South Connector Section

Running south from Cayce Riverwalk Phase 3 Access point, there is another completed Riverwalk segment. This runs southward to Thomas Newman Public Boat landing.

Columbia SC Riverwalk – Southern End Section

You never know what you might see as you cycle your way along the Riverwalk. In addition to pleasant river views I encountered some very interesting signs as you can see in the slideshow below – just click on the arrows.

After arriving at the Thomas Newman Public Boat landing I was surprised to find that the bike path system has now expanded further south. Currently this section does now show up on Google Maps but I’ve ridden the section and it is totally complete. I’ve shown it roughly in the map below – it appears as the “double red and blue” line. This segment runs about 1 mile before connecting up with The Timmerman Trail at the point labeled “Tennis Trail.” This trail again is totally paved and complete and winds its way through the Congaree Creek Heritage Preserve for about two miles before ending at the Timmerman Trail Head.

Columbia SC Riverwalk – Connection To Timmerman Trail

Enjoy The Ride! …….

Biking Columbia and the Riverwalk is really a very nice experience. Currently you can enjoy a 12 + mile ride from one end to the other along very nicely designed and maintained pathways with pleasant views and plenty of rest points. If you want a bit longer ride you can also head out into the center of Columbia on very bikeable city streets to explore several of the area’s visitor destinations.

Bike Columbia …………

…….. And Enjoy The Adventure!



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