Columbia Climbs

Fort Jackson

Fort Jackson

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This section encompasses climbs around the greater Columbia area. This includes Fort Jackson, Lexington, Irmo, Lake Wateree, Blythewood, Camden, and many of the surrounding areas.

Columbia isn’t known as a climbing city like the areas in the upstate and the mountainous regions in North Carolina. You won’t find many big, long climbs here, but because of a lot of the rivers and lakes, there are a surprising number of hills. There are plenty of good places here to train for events in higher elevations.

Disclaimer: Climb AT YOUR OWN RISK! Many of these will be difficult, strenuous, with dangerous descents. Do your own research and make sure you are prepared for the terrain. You are responsible for yourself!

Climb Description Links
Fort Jackson Walls These are the training hills in Fort Jackson for serious riders. I’ve used them extensively when training for Mount Mitchell or other difficult rides. Both are short and steep, with the peak grade somewhere above double digits. They are both on Wildcat Rd, on opposite sides of Dixie Rd. The one on the opposite (less traffic) side is generally thought of as the steepest, while the one on the Hartsville side is the longest. Strava (Wall 1), Strava (Wall 2), Fort Jackson Awareness Ride, Repeat the Hill Out of It

Hartsville Guard

This is part of the most popular loop in Fort Jackson. The last couple miles of this stretch are mostly uphill. Most of the time they are a light grade (2-3%), with a few 6-8% sections thrown in. For me, this is a good section to work on interval training. Strava, Alone in the Fort
Clark Rd Not far from Little Mountain and Chapin, this is a nice gem of a hill. The early part of it is steep, with grades in the double digits. It doesn’t end there, although it does ease up and keeps going for a couple miles. One of the longer steady climbs in the Columbia area that I’ve found. Strava
Congress Rd This is another hidden gem. It begins on Congress Rd lightly enough and then kicks up to a steep 10%+ grade. It levels out pretty quickly to a soft 1-2% until Eastover Rd. You can turn right to continue the climb for approx another 30 feet. Strava
Dixie Grind This is part of the reverse loop in Fort Jackson, and is part of the Support the Fort ride. The grade is not tough any section, but it is a continual uphill that keeps going and going. Part of the difficulty is because it doesn’t look hard and you ride fast, but it has a way of chewing you up.

Strava, Fort Jackson Awareness Ride

Gator Road This is one of the climbs in the latter portion of the Tri-Cities Tuesday and Thursday ride. The grade is rarely very steep, but because the ride can be a hammer-fest, people tend to attack it with all their might. That makes it painful. Strava, Return of the Group Ride
Harmon Hill This is a nice hill with about a 150-foot climb on both ends of it. The grade reaches the 4-6% mark, with a couple spikes into 8%. That makes the hill relatively easy, but a good candidate for hill repeats. I like to mix it up with Mount Elon Church Rd to keep things interesting. Strava, Repeat the Hill Out of It
Lake Road The is arguably not a climb. It is a pleasant 8-mile stretch of road with some rolling hills, but the way it winds around the lake makes it feel like a climb. It is one of my favorite roads to ride in Columbia, although we tend to not get out there much. Strava, Hammerin’ the Hills for Habitat, Ride2Recovery Columbia Cyclefest
Little Mountain Little Mountain is more of a hump than a mountain. It is situated around 300 feet higher than the surrounding area, which makes it a good place to climb. The best way to ride all the climbs is by participating in Assault on Little Mountain, where there are several routes that all return on different roads. Strava (202), Strava (Parr Rd), Tour de Midlands
Mike Stuck Rd This is an offshoot of Wash Lever Road, a popular thoroughfare from the Dutch Fork area to Peak. This is the tougher way, and possibly the steepest climb in all of Columbia. The toughest part is coming from the Peak side, near the end of the road. The grunt section has grades in double digits that reach 16-17% for a short while. It levels out, and then continues at a more moderate 3-6% for the remainder of the mile-long climb. Strava (steep part), Strava (entire climb), Mike Stuck Rd
Mount Elon Church A short half-mile climb of around 150 feet. It is mostly in the 6-8% range, with a short peak around 9-10%. The side opposite Harmon Road is a little shorter and steeper, making this and Harmon Hill one of my favorite areas for 4-way hill repeats. Strava, Repeat the Hill Out of It
Old Wire/Glenn Rd This is the first climb of the Tuesday/Thursday Tri-Cities rides. It begins on Old Wire Rd not too long after crossing I-26, and continues by turning right onto Glenn Rd. On it’s own, this would not be a very difficult climb because the grade seldom exceeds 5%, but people tend to hammer to the top. Strava, Return of the Group Ride
Tank Hill This is a Fort Jackson double-lane hill that would be an ideal candidate for hill repeats if not for the chewed up pavement. It is nearly a mile long and mostly stays at a 3-5% grade. This also leads to Hilton Field where most riders start the outer loop. Strava, Alone in the Fort
Wash Lever Rd Wash Lever is more of a thoroughfare from the Dutch Fork area to Peak. It is mostly fast and rolling with a few challenging short grunts. Again, this is a road that is challenging because people tend to attack these hills. Strava (WL Hill), LMC Colon Cancer Challenge, Tour de Midlands
Wateree to Longtown After riding Lake Road around Wateree, you have to climb back toward civilization. This is a good 1.5 mile climb that has a short steep section near the beginning, then keeps going and going at 2-3%. Strava, Hammerin’ the Hills for Habitat, Ride2Recovery Columbia Cyclefest

Map images: David Benbennick / CC-BY-SA-3.0


5 responses to “Columbia Climbs

  • James S

    Close to Mike Stuck Road in peak is Lon Stoudemire Road which (at least for a short length) has a steeper grade than Mike Stuck. When you come around the turn and see it for the first time it looks like a wall of asphalt. The Only problem with Lon Stoudemire is the bottom of the road is in terrible condition, so it’s only suitable to go up it.

  • Mark Merrill

    Come out to Calhoun County with us one Sunday. There are a few out there that Dwarf anything listed.

  • Gray

    There is another climb that is worth posting I believe. . . The Monticello/CIU Climb which is just north of Columbia International University on Monticello Rd. It is almost one mile long with an average grade of 4%.

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