Located along the banks of the Broad River 8 miles from downtown Columbia, Harbison State Forest’s 2,200 acres of woodland is truly an oasis in an increasingly urban area. Visitors can enjoy 67 species of trees and a wide range of wildlife on the more than 20 miles of walking, biking, and running trails.
This land was part of that purchased during the Great Depression in the late 1920’s by the Board of Ministries of the Presbyterian Church USA. The tract included 6,000-7,000 acres of what was then farmland. Terraces and fences from the old farms are still visible. The land was purchased to be used in a missionary effort to help ex-slaves and tenant farmers. The original plan was to sell these families 40 acres and a mule for $10 so they could set up homesteads. In the 1950’s, the South Carolina Forestry Commission bought 2,200 acres from the Presbyterian Church for $10.00 an acre. One of the main benefactors for the church’s purchase was a man from Pittsburgh, PA named Samuel P. Harbison and, to honor his generosity, it was stipulated at the time of sale that the land be named “Harbison Forest”. The State also bought additional land which is being used for the Correctional facility nearby. Today Harbison State Forest is managed by the Forestry Commission as the largest a urban public green space in the Southeast.