Part of the Three Rivers Greenway, the West Columbia Riverwalk spans nearly two miles from Moffatt Street to Knox Abbott Drive just outside of downtown Columbia. Most people access the trail from the West Columbia Riverwalk Amphitheaternear the Gervais Street Bridge.
This is also a popular put in and take out for kayaking and tubing. Wide concrete steps near the bridge provide easy access to the Congaree River.
Most of the trail is paved with a few boardwalks crossing over streams or low-lying areas. On any given day, you will see people biking, walking, jogging, skating, pushing strollers and walking dogs.
Last weekend, my friend and I took our dogs to the Riverwalk to get a little exercise. Our plan was to walk the West Columbia trail from Gervais Street to Knox Abbott Drive and then continue on the path as it turns into the Cayce Riverwalk. This section of the Three Rivers Greenway extends another 2.5 miles to Brookcliff Drive. Up and back, it was an ambitious six-mile trek.
Winding through a forest of southern hardwoods, the trail follows along the west side of the Congaree, offering spectacular views of the river and Columbia skyline. There are plenty of shaded overlooks, picnic tables and park benches to stop and catch your breath or have a snack as you make your way down the pathway.
You'll also find a number of educational wayside exhibits on the history and habitat of the area, as well as emergency call boxes.
The trail connects to the Cayce Riverwalk, passing under two railroad trestles where you'll find a covered shelter resembling an old railroad waiting dock. The pathway continues on a lighted boardwalk that runs along the edge of the Martin Marietta quarry. At the end of the boardwalk is the historic locks once used by riverboats. From this vantage point, you can see the old dam that runs along the Richland County side of the river.
On the way back, we stopped several times to take the dogs down to the river's edge for a refreshing dip and some much-needed H20. By the time we got back to the Gervais Street Bridge, the dogs were pretty well spent.
Restroom facilities are located adjacent to the amphitheater. On weekends, you'll also find Palmetto Outdoors renting tubes and kayaks in the parking lot. For $15, they'll shuttle you by bus to a put in two miles upriver for an easy float back to the Riverwalk landing.