South Carolina has a large number of hiking trails. The Congaree Swamp, Harbison State Forest, Poinsett State Park and Sesquicentennial State Park provide a large number of hiking opportunities for local residents. The Learning Trail, the Midlands Mountain Trail and the Stewardship Trail provide yet more such opportunities. While there aren't a large number of regular hiking events in Columbia, there are outdoors groups whose mission includes hiking.
The Palmetto Trail Challenge
The Palmetto Trail Challenge is an annual event organized by the Palmetto Conservation Foundation in Columbia. The challenge lasts for 15 weeks and encourages participants to get out and either walk or bike as much as they can in the 15 weeks beginning in February and ending in May of every year. Hikers enter the contest in teams of two and record their mileage week by week on the contest website.
Outdoor Groups in Columbia
The best way to find a community of hikers in Columbia is to find a group of people interested in outdoor activities. The Columbia Outdoor Adventure Network (COAN) is Columbia's premiere outdoors community. The network doesn't have its own website so the members organize on a popular meetup website called Meetup.com. Join the group on that site to contact members and participate in events. The Carolina Outdoors Society is another meetup group in Columbia interested in outdoor activities such as hiking. This society also organizes activities on Meetup.com.
Organizing Hiking Events
Though hiking is an element of these outdoors meetup groups, other activities such as spelunking, kayaking and golfing are also part of these groups' agendas. A Columbia resident interested primarily in hiking can organize regular hiking events in the area. Choose a trail and a date and time. Post to these groups inviting the Columbia outdoors community to hike with you on that day. You can also host regular hiking events once a month or a certain number of times per year. Each time, choose a trail and let your community know when you plan to hike.
Hiking Through Races
Many cities boast regular races throughout the year; these races may be of differing distances, including five kilometers, four miles or more, but there is almost always an opportunity to walk the race course rather than run it. South Carolina's "Information Highway" website offers a list of upcoming races in the state. Interested hiking enthusiasts can organize groups to walk in these races.
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