MORE INFORMATION: Harbison State Forest 5500 Broad River Road Columbia, SC 29212 803-896-8890
HIGHLIGHTS: Harbison State Forest is located near Columbia, S.C. and the Midlands Mountain Trail is the second of three hikes featured in the park. From Parking Area #5, the route makes a steep ascent to a ridge at nearly 300 feet where the trail intersects with an old forest road that runs north to south. After you and the pooch catch your breath, turn left onto the dirt road and head northeast for a short distance to hike this loop counter-clockwise. As the trail turns to the east, it crosses a series of small knobs which occasionally have views of the Broad River. From here, descend gradually to the river and pass a side trail for mountain bikers which is located to the right. This cut-off trail (which normally is reserved for bikers) is a designated alternative for hikers and their dogs during periods of extremely wet weather or when the Broad River floods its banks and muddy conditions exist. Hikers should follow the main trail (or blue blazed Midlands Mountain Trail) if possible which continues straight ahead then makes a sharp turn to the south along the Broad River. Keep dogs leashed at all times on this hike since mountain bikers are permitted to use both sections of trail and are as eager to avoid a collision as you.
The Midlands Mountain Trail drops to 175 feet as it follows the river for a half mile then climbs steeply for a hundred feet to another knob that forms a saddle with an area called the Harbison Bluffs. During the climb, the cut-off trail of the Midlands Mountain route appears again on the right. Hikers may notice the Broad River running north to south from this area and from the steep cliffs at Harison Bluffs which offer a spectacular 180 degree view. This vista makes the Midlands Mountain Trail one of the best hikes in the park, but watch the pooch carefully since it is at least a hundred feet down to the river from the bluffs.