Midland SC Birding Hotspots
New to the area? New to birdwatching? Visiting and want to see some local birds?
We have compiled a working list (non-comprehensive) list of some of our favorite birdwatching locations around Columbia and the Greater Midlands area. All have free admission except where noted.
Congaree National Park Link to location
Accessibility: Good - There is an elevated boardwalk that is an easy walk and is wheelchair accessible.
Parking: Excellent - It can sometimes get crowded at the main parking lot at the visitor center on weekends and holidays
Restrooms: Yes - At the Visitor's Center
Visit the Park's website and download a map linked here Congaree National Park Map
If the main parking lot at the Visitor's Center is full, try using one of the other trailheads. Those trails are not as accessible for individuals with mobility difficulties, but are great trails!
Friends of Congaree has a fantastic trail guide for each of the trails. Visit their website and use the Visit tab to find info. Friends of Congaree
Saluda Riverwalk - City of Columbia Park Link to location
Accessibility: Good - There is a concrete walkway that is an easy walk and is wheelchair accessible.
Parking: Excellent - It can sometimes get crowded at the main parking lot on weekends and holidays but there is overflow parking
Restrooms: Yes - At the primary parking lot
From the parking lot, walk down toward the river and you can turn right and walk upstream or turn left and walk downstream. It is a "linear park".
At the eastern end (downstream extent) of the trail, you will find Boyd Island, which is smack dab in the middle of the confluence of the Saluda and Broad Rivers. They combine to become the Congaree River.
This park is adjacent to the Riverbanks Zoo and Garden, the #1 tourist attraction in SC Link to Riverbanks
Columbia Canal and Riverfront Park - City of Columbia Park Link to location
Accessibility: Good - There is a paved walkway that is an easy walk and is wheelchair accessible.
Restrooms: Yes - At the primary parking lot AND at the other end of the trail (about 2.5 miles one way)
From the parking lot, walk down toward the river, cross the canal using the metal bridge and turn right to walk upstream. It is a "linear park". The parking lot is at the southern end.
There is another access point at the northern end of the park. It is better for birdwatching but more difficult to access. The entrance to the parking area is located off of Hwy 176 Broad Rover Road Link to location . Continue to the parking area at the dead end. Walk up the embankment at the top end of the parking lot and cross over the canal diversion gates. There are bathrooms on the right. You can take a left and walk the trail or walk straight ahead and see the diversion dam, which is a great birdwatching spot.
Timmerman Trail - City of Cayce Park Link to location
Accessibility: Good - There is a network of concrete walkways that are an easy walk and are wheelchair accessible.
Parking: Excellent - Parking is available at the trailhead and at the nearby tennis center and there is another parking area off of 12th St Extension.
Restrooms: Yes - At the tennis center, which is owned by Lexington County
There is a map at the trailhead near the parking area, but you might want to download a map. The trails seem like a tangled mess, but there are posted maps along the trail. Link to Map
On the trail map, Old State Road is shown in red. It is closed to vehicular traffic and open for hikers and bikers. It is more difficult to negotiate, but is great for birdwatching.
This trail is adjacent to Congaree Creek Heritage Preserve! You can easily reach CCHP via Old State Road.
Congaree Creek Heritage Preserve - SC Dept of Nat Resources Link to location
Accessibility: Challenging - The pathway is primitive and involves some tricky footing
Parking: Good - If the parking lot is full, you can park at the Timmerman Trail trailhead and walk to CCHP
Restrooms: None - Closest are at the tennis center, which is owned by Lexington County (see Timmerman Trail)
There is a map at the trailhead near the parking area. There is no map for download, but the main page for the property is linked here Link to Page
This trail is adjacent to Timmerman Trail! You can easily reach Timmerman Trail via Old State Road.
Wildlife Management Areas and Heritage Preserves - SC Dept of Natural Resources Link to SC DNR properties
This may be the best kept secret amongst birdwatchers. South Carolina has a huge network of publicly owned lands that are managed for wildlife and to allow hunting opportunities for residents that may not have their own land. The good news for us Bird Nerds is these lands are also open to public visitation during most of the year. The link above will take you to a complete list of properties.
Accessibility: Usually pretty good, but can vary from property to property. Most properties have a well-maintained road system. Biking is an option at some properties.
Parking: Usually good, but, again, can vary from property to property
Restrooms: Check the info sheet for the individual property using the link above.
WARNING! Many of these properties are actively hunted during hunting season. Unless the property is closed for scheduled hunts, you might still be able to visit the property during hunting season, but you must wear International Orange. You can get this at most hunting supply stores.
Using the link above to get to the list of the properties, find one you might want to visit and click through to that individual property to get details for that specific property.
Look at the top of the page and find a tab for a property map.
Look down and see the Activities/Facilities the property offers.
Scroll down and read the Property Description.
Look on the left side of the page and find the property location.
Look down on the left side and see what dates the property might be closed. Read this section very carefully and call the contact number if you aren't sure.