With an abundance of natural resources, Columbia County, Augusta’s neighbor to the west, is an outstanding local destination for outdoor recreation. Positioned along the shores of the 71,000-acre Clark’s Hill Lake, and bordered by the Savannah River and Augusta Canal, the community is a favored destination for myriad sports enthusiasts. Including its excellent park system, miles of biking and hiking trails, and waterways for paddle sports, Columbia County is a well-rounded outdoor sports location.
One of the county’s most popular parks is Wildwood Park in Appling. The nearly thousand acre facility on Clark’s Hill Lake appeals to a diverse array of outdoor enthusiasts. With “mega” boat ramps, a fish cleaning station, and a large parking area designed for boat trailers, Wildwood Park is one of the most popular destinations in the southeast for fishing. It is also the reason why numerous fishing organizations like to host their tournaments there.
Wildwood Park is also home to the International Disc Golf Center. This unique facility is widely considered Mecca for the disc golf community. The IDGC features three 18-basket championship courses, a pro shop, and a museum dedicated to the history of the sport.
Mountain biking, hiking, and trail running are also very popular in Columbia County. The Bartram Trail, a well-groomed trail with stunning views of Clark’s Hill Lake, is regularly teeming with two-wheel and two-feet aficionados seeking an aerobic fix. The intermediate-level trail offers several access points allowing users to go for a quick jaunt or take in a day’s adventure. The most popular stretch of trail is the 15.5 mile segment between the US Army Corps’ West Dam Recreation Area and Wildwood Park. More advanced riders will also enjoy the Keg Creek trail located across Washington Road from Wildwood Park and also the trails at Mistletoe State Park with its challenging climbs, creek crossings, and “rooty”, rocky terrain.
All the action, however, is not confined to the rural area. Blanchard Woods Park in Columbia County’s town center of Evans offers great appeal to the “extreme” athlete. The county opened a new BMX track and skateboard park next to the park’s soccer stadium in March 2015. The two facilities have proven quite popular with athletes young and old. The cross country running trails around the park are also a heavily used asset for the fitness set.
Kayaking is also quite popular in Columbia County. Paddlers are regularly seen floating down the Augusta Canal from Savannah Rapids Park in Martinez or along Betty’s Branch, a tributary that feeds into the Savannah River. Every April nearly a thousand paddlers converge on Riverside Park in Evans for the six-mile paddle along Betty’s Branch for the Benderdinker Paddle and Food Festival.
While appreciation for Columbia County’s great amenities is not lost on the locals, the venues have also gotten great national acclaim. In recent years, Columbia County has hosted the NCAA DII Soccer Championships, the AAU Cross Country National Championships, and the USA Cycling Marathon Mountain Bike National Championships. In 2016 the US Adventure Race Nationals were hosted here and more high profile events are on the horizon. Our locals consider themselves fortunate to have such great diverse recreational offerings just a short drive from home, and Columbia County greatly appreciates those who have to travel a little further. This is a welcoming community of great people who love to share all we have to offer.