This six-mile loop in Poinsett State Park near Sumter provides some easy-to-moderate riding in a semi-mountainous environment that's a pleasant aberration in the surrounding coastal plain. The trail is covered with pine needles and meanders through some grassy areas. Over thousands of years, spring-fed creeks carved steep bluffs into lowland hills, creating the park's varied terrain and unusually diverse vegetation such as mountain laurel, galax, bald cypress, and tupelo. Poinsett State Park provides habitat for white-tailed deer, gray fox, wood duck, barred owl, eastern mud turtle, and the northern pine snake. The 1,000-acre park's centerpiece is Colonial Lake, which was originally built as an irrigation reservoir for nearby rice fields. Today, picnic shelters pepper the area and provide shade for swimmers or fishing. The Equestrian Trail also connects to trails in neighboring Manchester State Forest and Mill Creek County Park via the High Hills of Santee Passage of the Palmetto Trail. It is not necessary for horses to be shod.
Directions from Columbia: Drive east (west from Sumter) on US 378 to SC 261. Drive south on SC261 for 10.0 miles to the Poinsett State Park sign, then turn right onto Park Road (Sumter County Road S-63). Drive approximately 1.2 miles to the Poinsett State Park entrance and turn right onto River Road. The trailhead is on the left at the Equestrian Campground.