Minutes from downtown Columbia, the Timmerman Trail in Cayce offers a quick escape from the urban buzz of South Carolina’s capital city. Following the course of the picturesque Congaree Creek, the 3.5-mile paved footpath rambles through the woods skirting the bluffs of the Congaree River.
With the slow-moving stream as your companion, it’s easy to lose yourself in the beauty and serenity of the forest as you walk beneath the thick canopy of pines and hardwoods. Along with the usual woodland animals, the protected land is home to snakes, alligators and assorted songbirds.
But the Timmerman Trail is more than just an easy getaway to nature; it’s a pathway to history. Some 10,000 years ago, Indians roamed the riverfront land hunting and scavenging for food. More recently, it was the site of a desperate, last-ditch effort to stop Union Gen. William Sherman from advancing into Columbia at the end of the Civil War.
Not more than a hundred yards from the trail is one of the most intact Civil War battle sites in the country. It features earthworks built in 1865 by enslaved and free African-Americans impressed into service by Confederate forces preparing to battle the Federal army in the waning days of the war.
The half-mile long earthen berm served as a defensive line for Confederate troops, charged with defending the Old State Road bridge from Sherman’s troops coming up from Savannah. The four-hour skirmish ended when a Federal brigade crossed upstream flanking the Confederates and forcing them to retreat to Columbia. A marker along the trail stands near the remains of the earthworks.
Hikers and bikers can access the Timmerman Trail from a parking lot near the entrance to SCANA’s corporate headquarters just west of the 12th Street Extension in Cayce. After passing underneath the road, the trail begins its journey following the path of Congaree Creek. Several spots along the way offer scenic views of the twisty, narrow waterway.
If you stay right on the trail, you’ll connect with the Cayce Riverwalk, paralleling the Congaree River. On this long stretch of walkway, you’ll be treated to beautiful views of the wide open river. Not long after passing the Thomas Newman Boat Landing, the trail ends at a parking lot.
After doubling-back on the Riverwalk, you’ll reconnect to the Timmerman Trail near the site of the earthworks. The berm is just behind the marker on your left.
Paved with concrete, the trail is suitable for bikes, strollers, wheelchairs and skates. Emergency phone service is located in a dozen spots along the way. Find more information on the Timmerman Trail and Cayce Riverwalk here.