Sesquicentennial State Park, located off of Two Notch Road, is better known to locals as Sesqui. There are about 8 miles of interconnecting trails within the park which are open to cyclists and hikers. The trails are sandy, with a good mix of loose and hard packed sand. The loose sand makes for some tricky going in some spots and is best ridden after a rain. The trails are a mix of single and double track. Take I-77 to Exit 17, Two Notch Road/Hwy. 1. There will be signs indicating which direction to take towards Sesqui, which will be on your right about 2 miles after the exit. Turn right into the park. The best place to park is by the "convention center" (really a small meeting building) on the left about 1/2 mile into the park. The trail begins to the left by the fitness trail.
Harbison State Forest is located off of Broad River Road near Harbison Blvd. The trails are fast, hard pack, and often quite crowded on the weekends with both hikers and cyclists. Markers clearly show where the trails are and where bikes are/are not allowed; maps are also available. There is a small daily fee to ride. Take I-26 and get off at Harbison Blvd. You want to go the opposite direction from the mall. Take a right on Broad River Road. The parking lot will be on the left side of the street; just look for all the cars.
Sumter aka the Manchester State Forest, is located near Sumter, SC and is home to the annual Killer 3 Race Series. The trails are a mix of sand and mud. There are several dirt roads that have climbs, but the singletrack is relatively flat. One of the best parts of the trail is a 2 mile section full of several dozen whoopdedoos. There is a fee for trail use that is payable at the Forest Office on Hwy. 261 before the park entrance. From Columbia, take I-77 to Garner's Ferry Rd/Hwy 378 towards Sumter. Turn right onto Hwy. 261 and go through Wedgefield. Turn right onto Poinsette Park Rd/SR 63. The bicycle parking lot is about .5 mile on the left. The trails surround the parking lot. Maps are available in a mailbox in the parking lot or at the Park office
Lynch's Woods, in Newberry, SC, is about 30 minutes north of downtown Columbia, It is tight, twisty single track with several technical creek crossings. There is a 4.7 mile dirt road loop, and a 5.2 mile singletrack loop. Take I-26 West to Exit 76. Turn left onto Hwy 219. Go approximately 3 miles and turn left on Hwy 76. There will be a Shell station on the left at the corner of 76/219. Go approximately 1 mile until Cromley Ford is on the left, and at that traffic light, turn left. Go through the gate, and the parking lot is on the right. Allow about 40-60 minutes per lap...it is slow going.
Canal Loop, in Augusta, GA, is about an hour west of Columbia. It is a tight, technical 4 mile singletrack loop with minimal climbing. There are many roots, a rocky section, and some tricky turns. This trail is best ridden after a week of dry weather as it can get very muddy. There is also a 5 mile dirt road that runs down the Augusta Canal that is suitable for mountain biking. Take I-20 West towards Augusta. Take Exit 66 in Georgia (River Watch Parkway) towards downtown Augusta. Turn right onto 15th St. and then right onto Broad St. Go to Eve St. and turn right. Follow the signs to Canal Park.
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