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Tourist in your own city: 8 walking tours of Columbia
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Photo by @andreamensink
8 walking tours of Columbia 🚶
Columbia’s weather is in this really weird place that we love the most: spring in the morning, summer in the afternoon + back to spring at night. So, what do you do about it? Take advantage of it before it’s 100º at 7 a.m. + 7 p.m. – and get outside to do some walking tours of Columbia .
From arts and food to history and nature, there’s a walking tour of our city for every interest. And you don’t have to be a tourist to try these. Get reacquainted and start a summer romance with your city.
(Disclaimer: As always, this is not a complete list. Email us your favorite tours of the city.)
📜 Historic Heart of Columbia | Weekend Strolls + Group Tours | Admission varies
Learn all about the history of Cola during this 60 minute walking tour that takes you through the State House, Governor’s Mansion + UofSC’s campus . With the summer sun coming back in full force, take advantage of the beautiful walks through campus before it’s too hot to be outside.
🍝 Columbia Food Tours | Saturdays, 1:45 p.m. | $45 per person
A tour dedicated to food, what could be better than that? This 2.5-3 hour walking tour of Downtown Cola lets you try plates from 5-7 of the best restaurants the city has to offer – like The Oak Table, Lula Drake + il Giorgione. Bring on all the carbs.
🌲 Congaree National Park Nature Discovery Walk | Saturdays, 9:30-11:30 a.m. | free
Join a park volunteer naturalist on a guided, 2.5-mile round trip boardwalk walk to explore our hidden gem of a national park, only ~15 mins from downtown. Looking + listen for animals like snakes and butterflies and see really giant trees. Perfect Saturday morning, if you ask me.
🏛 Columbia SC 63 Civil Rights Walking Tours | Second Sundays , 4-5 p.m. | free
In 2012, to honor the 50th anniversary of the height of the American Civil Rights Movement in 1963, mayors of 7 cities came together to find ways to highlight the iconic movement. In Columbia, a group of community leaders, educators, students + other Soda Citizens created the Civil Rights Walking Tours of Main St. – where noteworthy + moving stories of Civil Rights protests, sit-ins + other acts happened in the ‘60s at the State House, the Kress building + more.
Photo by @columbiasc63
🖼 Columbia Museums and Galleries Tour | self-guided | free tour; admission to sites varies
This self-guided online tour takes you through nine of Cola’s museums + art galleries, from the Columbia Museum of Art and the South Carolina State Museum to City Art gallery. This one’s for all you arts + culture enthusiasts. Also, who knew Cola had a Fire Museum?
🏠 Woodrow Wilson Family Home house tour | Tuesday-Saturday, 11:30-2:30 p.m. + Sunday, 2:30 p.m. | $8 for adults, $5 for children, free for Historic Columbia members; buy tickets at the Gift Shop at Robert Mills
Photo by @impeachcobbler
The history geek in me is coming out. Woodrow Wilson’s home is the only standing presidential site in the state , making it something that you must see. Plus, the Italian villa-style home certainly qualifies for a 10/10 Instagram photo backdrop.
🍴 Two Gals and a Fork Food Tours | one Saturday/month | $38-50 per person
Founded in 2014 , best friends Gloria Freeman + Janet Jordan brought the Brunch & Munch + Sites & Bites walkable food tours to Cola – a new concept to hit our city. When I found out they offer custom tours like a Pub Crawl + Walking & Tasting Food Tour, I immediately texted my friends + booked a tour.
🌇 City Orientation Walk | self-guided | free tour; admission to sites varies
Who needs a tour guide? This all-things-Cola walking tour will take you to all the key historic + cultural sites that you can’t miss out on the next time you have a free weekend.
A couple of other, non-walking tours that we want to try this season include: 🐻 Park Ranger tours at Riverfront Park (this month, they’re doing Sundays with Lily guided kayaking tours; free); 🛶 Wilderness Canoe Tours of Cedar Creek at Congaree National Park on Fridays/Saturdays ( $1.50 ); 🍻 Columbia Brew Bus tours of Cola’s breweries, distilleries + wine shops (Saturdays/Sundays; $45 for 3 stops with tastings); and 🚲 SC Pedal Parlor pedaling tours (7 days/week; $20-22 per person – TBH, we’ve already tried this ; it’s wheely fun).
What walking tours are you taking in Soda City? Respond to this email and let us know.
– Lauren + Sam
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Explore historic sites in Columbia and Richland County through guided walking and bus tours. Travel to the historic sites by participating in these public programs and group tour offerings. These tours showcase historic sites and provide historical context to the people, architecture, and events that made them significant.
There are many options for exploring our local history by visiting historic sites throughout Richland County. We offer monthly, guided Weekend Strolls that typically run 75 minutes. We also offer any of our walking tours to groups of 10 or more with advance registration.
Guided driving tours offer your group insight into the historically significant areas of Richland County. We offer guided Weekend Rolls that typically run 75 minutes. We also offer any of our bus tours to groups of 10 or more with advance registration.
Upcoming Strolls & Rolls
Sunday, February 25th: 1 — 2:30 p.m.
Heathwood Walking Tour
800 Abelia Road, Columbia, SC 29205
Explore Heathwood with Historic Columbia on Sunday, February 25, 2024.
Sunday, March 10th: 1 — 2:30 p.m.
University Hill Walking Tour
1619 Pendleton Street, Columbia, SC 29201
Explore University Hill with Historic Columbia.
Sunday, May 12th: 1 — 2:30 p.m.
Main Street Walking Tour
1515 Main Street, Columbia, SC 29201
Explore Main Street with Historic Columbia.
Sunday, June 9th: 1 — 2:30 p.m.
Schedule a Group Tour
Group tours consist of 10 or more people. If you have fewer than nine people, you can join any tour without advance notice. Contact us today to book your group!
[email protected] (803) 252-1770 ext. 23
Authentic Walking Tours
Expert and knowledgeable guides, discounts and benefits.
WELCOME TO THE BEYOND EXPERIENCE !
We are authentic guides connecting Colombia since 2013, 10 years sharing passion at every step !
We've just created a new travel tool for you, our local digital Free Walking Tour Maps. Click the city below and explore:
Medellín - Cali - Bogotá - Cartagena
Access to all our local recommendations, seasonal discounts and tours in Colombia that we have for you!
DISCOVER BEYOND Bogotá
Explore Bogota’s rich cultural heritage, stunning architecture and vibrant food scene!
DISCOVER BEYOND Cali
Discover the rhythm of Cali and dance your way through Colombia!
DISCOVER BEYOND Cartagena
Find out the enchanting colonial architecture and stunning beaches of Cartagena , Colombia's Caribbean gem!
DISCOVER BEYOND Medellín
Experience the thriving art, culture, and nightlife scene of Medellin , Colombia's most innovative city!
Our most popular tours in Colombia
Do you want to explore Colombia with our best recommendations for Tours in the main cities of the country? You are very much invited to join our tours available in Bogotá, Medellín, Cartagena and Cali.
Free Colombian Conflict Tour: War, Drug Trafficking & Peace
Travel through the history of the Colombian armed conflict!
Monday to Sunday at 10am
Villa de Leyva Magic Town Day Tour
A full day tour at Villa de Leyva & Ráquira Magical Towns!
Monday to Sunday at 7am
Full Day Tour
Zipaquira salt cathedral and guatavita lake day tour.
Full day tour to the Salt Cathedral of Zipaquira and Guatavita lake!
Tuesday to Sunday at 8am
Ciudad Bolivar Transmicable Social & Art Tour
Experience Bogotá's transformation on a social tour in Ciudad Bolívar and Transmicable!
Monday to Sunday at 8am
Exotic fruit tour at paloquemao market.
Healthy, delicious and fun exotic fruit experience!
Monday to Saturday at 10am or 2pm
History and Culture Tour
Zipaquira salt cathedral & andres carne de res in chia.
Experience Colombia's underground wonder and savor Colombian culture at Andrés in Chía!
Monday to Sunday at 2pm
Night Tour and Party
Free getsemani artistic district tour.
Discover the untold history of the famous Getsemani neighborhood!
Monday to Friday at 4pm
Free Great Center Tour: Walled City & Getsemani
Explore both historical districts in one tour!
Saturday and Sunday at 10am & 4pm
Free San Diego & Gabriel G. Márquez Tour
The magical Cartagena from Gabo's perspective!
Wednesdays & Fridays at 4pm
San Basilio de Palenque Town Day Tour
Visit the first town in the Americas to be founded by free Africans!
San Felipe Fortress & Walled Old City Tour
Visit the largest Spanish fort in the Americas!
Cartagena's Best Pub Crawl in Getsemaní
A night that you won’t remember but never forget!
Wednesday and Friday at 9pm
Free El Poblado District Walking Tour
A guided tour without taboos through the most exclusive neighborhood of Medellín!
Monday to Saturday at 4pm
Free Violence & Post-conflict of Medellin Tour
Everything you need to know about the violence dynamics in Medellín before, during and after the Cartel!
Monday to Saturday at 2pm
Free Walking Downtown Tour Medellin
Get to know one of the most important and relevant cultures in the history of our country: The paisas!
Monday to Saturday at 9:30am
Guatape & Peñol Rock Day Tour
Discover Guatape's magic on our thrilling tour!
Beyond Colombia Team
Coffee Farm Experience in Santa Elena
Immerse in our enchanting Coffee Farm Experience!
Nature Day Tours
Comuna 13 & Aurora Cable Car Tour
A must-do experience through a vibrant, resilient and transformed neighborhood!
Monday to Sunday at 9am
Free Alameda Market Food Tour
Dive into the best food market of Cali!
Tuesday to Saturday at 10:30am
Free Historic Downtown Cali Tour
Enjoy the fresh, rich and beauty of Caleños culture!
Monday to Saturday at 3pm
Siloé Comuna 20 Tour
Experience Siloé's heart on our social tour!
Guatavita El Dorado Lake & Casa Loca Tour
A great half-day tour to the amazing Guatavita Sacred Lake!
Nemocon Salt Mine Day Tour
Full day tour to a cool and active salt mine near Bogotá!
Chicaque Natural Park Tour Hike
Visit one of the closest National Natural Parks near Bogotá!
Afro Cartagena Cultural Tour
A journey through our Colombian Afro Caribbean history in the most colorful historic center!
Bike Tour Medellín & Pueblito Paisa
Bike Tour Medellín & Pueblito Paisa
Monday to Sunday at 9:30am and 3:00pm
Awards and honours
We have obtained international recognition for our work, thanks to the efforts of our team and the support of our traveling friends.
Travelers, experiences and real comments
Would you like to know what other travelers have said about our experiences? Come with us, live, explore and take home authentically local memories. You're invited!
I loved the Medellin Free Walking Tour with Beyond Colombia. Super interesting all the stories and the setting of the city center. Deisy was super descriptive with all the details of the history of Colombia since colonial times and recounted the moments for us in a very authentic and personal way. She felt like being guided by a great friend who knows everything about Medellin. We always feel safe, entertained and happy.
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Keyla took us everywhere and to Gethsemane which I didn't know about. She is very informed and welcoming and remembered all of our names.
Very nice walking! It's worth doing it! Lucho (Luis) was an incredible guide. He did an amazing job presenting and discussing peace and war from the beginning of the republic until today.
Belo Horizonte, Brasil
Cali's tour with Isabel was great! She is very pleasant, clear and involved. It was a good balance between discovering the history of Cali, its culinary specialties and its culture in general. I recommend it ! The 3 hours pass quickly.
I did the tour with Rafa, and the truth is that he was excellent, very willing, the information he gave us was excellent, he answered the millions of questions I asked him and at no time did he seem annoyed by so many questions. Super recommended, very good walk!
Our guide Artu was such a fun character. He was very knowledgeable about Cartagena and gave us a lot of local tips. He was very engaging and fun to be with which made the 2 hour tour go by quickly in the Cartagena sun. Highly recommend it!
I think this Free Tour Medellin was the best walking tour I ever did. We were only three people in our group and our guide was able to dig really deep into the stuff we were interested in. With some personal stories and experiences we were able to understand at least a little how the situation was and how it came to it. He told us how proud they are about the development the country is making but never forgot to also state the dark sides that still exist. Really really amazing!
This was an informative, fun, and multi-fascited tour of the Old City section of Getsemani. From history, to art, to the current struggle to maintain its unique culture, the guide is very knowledgeable and interactive. Our guide was Braulio Monsalve. He easily shared in Spanish and English while keeping the group engaged. Learning a cultural dance at the end of the tour was fantastic!
New York, USA
Free walking tours with passionate and knowledgeable local guides (you tip the guide on completion). An informative & fun way to explore the cities of Colombia; tragic truths of war & peace tour, political violence, foods, indigenous history, art & lifestyle. All up, I walked six tours in three Colombian cities and all were excellent.
We work with trusted national allies that we recommend. These are some of our allies and trusted friends that we recommend for your stay in Colombia.
LET'S GET IN TOUCH
Interested in a Guided Tour?
Please book a tour with us for our Main Street Civil Rights Walking tour by reaching out to our office. We strive to use Main St. as our classroom as we work to raise awareness and understanding of a truly pivotal chapter in American history. We have a 5-person minimum for groups wanting to book a private tour.
Together, we will explore the remarkable accounts of strength, determination, and sacrifice that define how and why “Our Story Matters” – historically and for the future – to South Carolina and to our nation.
Our Story Matters
Columbia’s Main Street was the stage for a number of defining moments during the Civil Rights Movement of 1963. A young domestic worker was ejected from a city bus for trying to exit off the front instead of the back at the corner of Main and Washington; sit-ins occurred regularly at lunch counters like Kress near the corner of Main and Hampton; and marches and protests filled the SC State House grounds at the state’s seat of government, which anchors Main Street.
Capturing and sharing a city’s story not only allows for locals to better understand their community’s historical significance, but gives visitors the opportunity to see below the surface and experience a destination from the inside out.
Columbia SC 63’s Main Street Tour takes visitors on a journey through some of Columbia’s Civil Rights noteworthy and moving stories. Currently, eight markers, and various other installations, serve as reminders of pivotal incidents that occurred along Main Street. As Columbia SC 63 continues to uncover more stories, additional markers will be added in an effort to remember, but not repeat.
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Senior Steps: Unveiling the Best City Walking Tours Near Independent Living Apartments in Columbia, SC
- Senior Lifestyle
- Senior Steps: Unveiling the Best…
For those residing in independent living apartments in Columbia, SC , the city offers many walking tours that unveil its rich history and breathtaking scenery. These tours are not just about exercise; they are a gateway to exploring Columbia’s vibrant culture and heritage. Whether strolling through historic neighborhoods, visiting landmarks, or enjoying the natural beauty of local parks, these walking tours provide an enriching experience for residents who cherish active and independent lifestyles. They are a fantastic way to stay physically active while immersing oneself in the local community, learning about the city’s past, and enjoying its present-day charm.
A Community Steeped in Local Culture
Our retirement community in Columbia, SC, is ideally situated for residents to take full advantage of these city walking tours. An active lifestyle is key to a fulfilling retirement, and our community’s location offers easy access to the best walking tours in the city. These tours are an excellent opportunity for our residents to connect with the vibrant culture of Columbia. Our team members are always ready to provide information on the latest and most popular area attractions , ensuring our residents have all they need to explore the city’s rich history and stunning landscapes. With various tours available, everyone can find something that piques their interest.
Exploring Historic Columbia Walking Tours for Cultural Enrichment
The Historic Columbia walking tours offer an exceptional opportunity to delve into the past and discover the unique stories that shaped the city. These guided tours take you through historic neighborhoods, where beautifully preserved homes, gardens, and landmarks provide a visual journey through time. As you walk the streets of Columbia, you’ll gain insight into the architectural styles that define the city’s character, from antebellum mansions to charming bungalows. Learning about the people who once called these places home adds depth and context to the city’s history. These walking tours connect to the past, fostering a sense of pride and appreciation for the cultural heritage surrounding your independent living community.
Discovering the South Carolina State House Grounds and Surrounding Area
The South Carolina State House stands as a symbol of civic pride in Columbia, and its grandeur is best appreciated through a leisurely walk around its grounds. Residents of independent living apartments can explore the State House’s stunning architecture and historical significance in the city’s heart. The meticulously landscaped gardens and statues that adorn the grounds create a serene atmosphere, inviting residents to take a moment to reflect and connect with the seat of South Carolina’s government. Walking around the State House, you’ll experience a sense of belonging and a deeper connection to the city you call home in your independent living apartment.
Participating in Guided Tours of the University of South Carolina Campus
The University of South Carolina’s campus is a vibrant community within the city, and its guided tours offer a captivating glimpse into Columbia’s academic and cultural life. These tours give residents a unique opportunity to explore the university’s history, art galleries, and botanical gardens. Walking through the campus, you’ll be immersed in a dynamic environment that fosters learning, creativity, and cultural exchange. The presence of students and faculty adds to the campus’s energy, creating a sense of vitality that can be inspiring for residents of independent living apartments. Whether you’re interested in the university’s educational offerings, cultural events, or scenic beauty, participating in the University of South Carolina Campus guided tours can be an engaging and intellectually stimulating experience within your Columbia, SC, community.
Enjoying Nature Walks at Riverfront Park and the Congaree River
For residents of independent living apartments in Columbia, SC, who appreciate the beauty of the outdoors, Riverfront Park and the Congaree River offer an idyllic setting for nature walks and relaxation. These natural gems are conveniently located near your independent living community, making connecting with the serene surroundings easy. Riverfront Park, nestled along the banks of the Congaree River, provides a picturesque backdrop for your walks. Paved paths wind through lush greenery, offering a tranquil escape from the urban hustle and bustle. The river’s gentle flow and the peaceful ambiance of the park create a soothing atmosphere, making it the perfect place for residents to immerse themselves in nature. Birdwatching, taking in river views, and enjoying the fresh air are just a few of the activities you can savor during your walks. Exploring these natural havens allows you to stay active and maintain a deep connection with the environment, all within a short distance from your independent living apartment.
Join Us for a Walk-Through History
Step out from your independent living apartment in Columbia, SC, and join us for a walk through the city’s history and beauty. Our retirement community is not just a place to live; it’s a gateway to exploring and enjoying all Columbia offers. From scenic walks to cultural tours, we provide the perfect starting point for your adventures. Visit us today and see how our community can enhance your active, independent lifestyle. Let’s walk together and discover the treasures of Columbia!
Please contact your Celebrations Director for information on upcoming activities. Thank you!
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The Best Walking Tours in Cartagena, Colombia
A Unesco World Heritage site since 1984, Cartagena , with its cobblestoned streets, 16th-century mansions and beautifully preserved fortresses, is teeming with history, culture and romance. From foodie and art adventures to exploring the city’s most important historical sites, here are Cartagena’s best walking tours.
Paradise found: a taste of colombia’s caribbean coast.
On Culture Trip’s exclusive eight-day Colombian Caribbean adventure , which traces the northern coast line from Cartagena to Palomino, you can enjoy a guided walking tour of Cartagena’s Walled City and a street food tour – followed by a rum tasting session. Our Local Insider will show you the main landmarks, such as the Catedral de Santa Catalina de Alejandría (Cartagena Cathedral) and the Santuario de San Pedro Claver, as well as a handful of lesser-known spots.
Historical Walking Tour, Free Tour Cartagena
Getsemani Art Tour, Streetart Cartagena
Once one of Cartagena’s poorest neighborhoods, today Getsemani is undergoing an impressive cultural revival. Just a five-minute walk from the Old Town , its hip hostels, fusion restaurants and flourishing nightlife are attracting a growing number of travelers. Leading this cultural revolution are Getsemani’s street artists, who, in recent years, have covered its walls in colorful graffiti and murals – many of which comment on the sociopolitical issues and lost history of Colombia. Take a free urban art walking tour with Streetart Cartagena to learn the story behind these artworks. Message their Facebook page to organize a day and time.
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Street Food Tour, Cartagena Connections
One of the best ways to get to know Cartagena is by trying the local street food. Cartagena Connections’ foodie tour takes you to all the best vendors in town, giving you the chance to sample delicacies such as arepas (griddled cornmeal cakes), buñuelos (fried dough fritters covered in sugar and cinnamon) and empanadas (a South American pastry filled with meat, vegetables, herbs and spices). You’ll also learn about Colombia’s culinary influences . Tours leave from San Diego Plaza every day – apart from Sundays – at 2.30pm and include up to 10 tastings across two hours.
1. Bazurto Market Adventure Tour in Cartagena
Pungent aromas swirl through the air at Bazurto Market, which sells meat, fish, fruit, vegetables, street food, handcrafted goods and more. It’s loud, sprawling and somewhat chaotic, but if you embrace the rambunctiousness, you’ll experience a wonderfully raw and authentic side to Cartagena. On this tour, you’ll be guided through the labyrinth of stalls, taste some exotic foods and meet several vendors to find out how they make their products. Afterwards, tuck into lunch at Ceci’s restaurant – famous for featuring on Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations TV show.
2. Cartagena City tour with Popa Hill
While most Cartagena walking tours are predominantly focused around the Walled City, there’s plenty more to see beyond the historical center. On this tour, you’ll visit the Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas – a castle built by the Spaniards on the Hill of San Lázaro to protect themselves from attacks by the English and the French during the 17th century. You’ll then move on to the nearby Convent of Santa Cruz de la Popa – a monastery on top of a 150m (492ft)-high hill, offering sweeping views across the city and the harbor. Entry to both sites is included.
3. Walking Tour Cartagena Old City including Gold Museum and Plaza de Bolivar
As well as covering the main historical landmarks in the Walled City including Cartagena Cathedral and Plaza de Bolivar, this two-hour walking tour includes a trip to the Zenú Gold Museum. Opened in 1982 in a grand colonial building, the museum offers a detailed insight into the ancient Zenú civilization with a particular focus on gold artefacts and pottery from pre-Columbian times.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.
Guides & Tips
Street wise: a stop-by-stop guide to calle del arsenal, cartagena.
Places to Stay
Where to book your stay in cartagena for a local experience.
The Best Luxury Resorts in Cartagena
Tips for Visiting Cartagena, Colombia
Inside the Street-Art Scene of Cartagena's Getsemani Neighborhood
See & Do
Things to know about cartagena before visiting.
The 10 Best Places To Go Shopping in Cartagena
Casa en el Agua: the Colombian Hostel in the Middle of the Ocean
A Guide to the Best Scuba Diving Around Cartagena
Engage in the Local Cultures of Diverse Cartagena
How To Spend Three Days in Cartagena – the Gem of Colombia’s Caribbean
Uncover the Hidden Gems of Cartagena
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Columbia Hazy Trail Waterproof Walking Trousers review: the damp busters
Highly functional and well-featured, columbia hazy trail waterproof walking trousers are fairly affordable rain pants for drizzly days on hazy trails.
Hazy Trail Waterproof Walking Trousers from Columbia are excellent for people who enjoy getting out all year round, but do the majority of their hiking on coast and countryside trails around sea level, with the occasional adventure into the hills. Reasonably priced, lightweight, easy to carry and put on, decently breathable and reliably water- and windproof, they are the perfect pair of protective pants to carry in your pack as a just-in-case option during long day hikes and backpacking adventures.
Calf leg zips
Proper pockets with zips
Packs into its own pocket for easy carry/storage
Excellent range of sizes available
No recycled content
Lack of reinforcement on high impact areas
Regular leg length is a little short
One color only (black)
You can trust Advnture Our expert reviewers spend days testing and comparing gear so you know how it will perform out in the real world. Find out more about how we test and compare products.
Meet the reviewer
Pat has hiked all over the world, his adventures taking him to Mont Blanc, the roof of Western Europe; the Norwegian Alps; the highest peaks on Australia; and New Zealand’s Great Walks – among others. He’s an experienced tester of hiking footwear and gives each pair a thorough thrashing before reviewing.
Columbia Hazy Trail Waterproof Walking Trousers: first impressions
These down-to-earth Columbia Hazy Trail Waterproof Walking Trousers do their main job well, without making a massive song and dance about it. They have several good features – including proper pockets, an integrated carry pouch, reflective details and calf zips – but they’re really just designed to do one thing: keep your legs and hiking pants dry during sudden rain and snow storms when you’re out hiking.
• List price: $100 (US) / £100 (UK) • Weight (men’s large): 320g / 11.3g • Gender specificity: Men’s / Women’s • Water resistance: Not specified • Breathability: Not specified • Sizes: XS-XXL, plus extended sizes up to 6X • Leg length options: Men’s: Regular / Long; Women’s: Short / Regular / Long • Materials: Omni-Tech (100% polyester) • Colors: Black • Best for: Day walking, hiking, trekking
The 2.5-layer Hazy Trail trousers are made with Columbia’s own Omni-Tech material, with a microporous membrane incorporated into a polyester-based laminate (none of which is recycled, sadly) that is tasked with keeping wind and water out while allowing the wearer’s body to breathe.
According to Columbia’s own tech scale Omni-Tech provides protection against “light to medium rain and snow” in “mild conditions” and during “moderate activity”. So let’s be clear: while these pants are well suited for day walking, hiking and trekking at up to low alpine level, they’re not designed or intended for climbing mountains or taking on anything too extreme.
I’ve been told that, as a public-listed company, Columbia don’t publish the results of technical testing on their garments or the materials used (which seems odd, frankly), so I’ve no idea what the verified hydrostatic head (HH) or breathability rating of these pants is, but third-party sources (and Dr Haskell Beckham , Columbia’s Vice President of Innovation) quote figures of HH: 10,000mm or more for Omni-Tech, and give the material a breathability rating of 10,000 g/m²/24hr.
There are rain pants and waterproof jackets out there with bigger numbers, but these ratings are good (larger than those given to the flysheets of many decent backpacking tents ) and comfortably high enough for a garment to be considered reliably waterproof and comfortably breathable (textile experts say any garment with a HH of at least 5,000mm can be considered waterproof). Furthermore, the seams of the trousers are fully sealed (as you would expect), the pockets (which zip shut) have a waterproof overflap, and the trousers appear to have been treated with a water repelling (DWR) substance .
All of which sounds and looks great, but obviously I had to put the Hazy Trail trousers to a few real tests on some soaking wet walks in order to see how their performance compares with those of the best rain pants on the market .
Columbia Hazy Trail Waterproof Walking Trousers: on the (hazy and hydrated) trails
Luckily, while I was testing Columbia’s Hazy Trail waterproof trousers, Britain was battered by a sequence of storms that ensured the trails weren’t just hazy, they were downright drenched during the days I was out and about. The walking wasn’t especially pleasant, but at least I was able to really put these pants through their paces in the conditions they were designed for.
The Hazy Trail trousers worked just fine in terms of doing their primary job: keeping my legs dry. As noted above, these pants are designed for use in wet but non-extreme conditions, which is the sort of scenario the majority of us face most of the time, as we go for day walks and the occasional backpacking trip or overnight trekking adventure. (If you’re climbing a mountain or going somewhere very cold, wet and challenging, look for a hardier pair of protective pants such as the Haglöfs LIM ZT Shell GTX Pro Pants , but know that you’re going to pay a lot more for them.)
Light rain beads on surface of the Hazy Trails and rolls off, and the trousers didn’t wet out during the testing process (which is more to do with the DWR than the membrane) or let water through to my under garments. In my experience they supplied good protection from the elements, being both water- and windproof.
In terms of breathability, microporous systems like Omni-Tech (and Gore-Tex) breathe best in low humidity, and in the UK we experience quite high levels of humidity (even in winter), especially around the coast where I live and do most of my walking – so the conditions were quite challenging for these trousers. Nevertheless, they still performed reasonably well – I didn’t accumulate too much condensation and I’m confident they will work even better in drier, colder, less humid conditions.
These are over-trousers, designed to be pulled out of a pack and used as a shell layer on top of your hiking pants when the heavens open while you’re out walking. As such, it’s important that they’re simple and hassle-free to carry, and accordingly the left pocket on the Hazy Trails doubles up as a stuff sack, swallowing the rest of the garment and zipping shut to form a neat package that can be stuffed into the pocket of a hiking backpack and easily located when it starts raining.
Aside from this capability, I was pleased to see proper pockets on these rain pants – there are two, and both zip shut and have a waterproof protective flap to cover the zip. Note: the zip itself isn’t fully waterproof, so I still avoid putting anything that absolutely needs to stay dry in them, but these pockets can still prove very useful when you’re out and about.
A calf-length zip on each leg allows you to slide these trousers on without taking your walking boots off (because, by the time you’ve done that, you’ll be soaked through). You can tighten the bottom of the legs with a cord and toggle, and loop the cord over the speed hooks on the top of the lacing system of your hiking boots or walking shoes (if they have such a feature), to keep the pants in place and stop your best hiking socks getting wet.
The waist also tightens with a toggle, which I had mixed feelings about (the closed loop prevents one end getting lost, but the cord is far too long and it’s hard to get a tight, secure fit).
The Hazy Trail Waterproof Trousers are only available in one color – black – but they do have several reflective elements on them – around the back of the knees, on the bum and at the ankles – that make hiking at night on shared lanes a little safer.
With waterproof over-trousers, there’s always a trade-off between robustness and weight and bulk. At 320g for a pair of men’s large, Columbia have prioritized ease of carry over longevity, and there are no reinforced areas on these pants. If you typically time your hikes to happen in the drier months, but still need some just-in-case wet weather protection, these will be perfect; but if you’re looking for waterproof trousers you can wear for long periods of time throughout extended periods of the year, in conditions that are in any way rough, then you’ll need a tougher pair.
Fit and comfort
On test I found that these trousers have been appropriately sized to comfortably fit over hiking pants. One thing I did find was that the leg length on the regular-sized trousers was a tad short, so if you’re in any doubt, opt for the longer leg. (And, while we’re talking about sizing, it’s great to see Columbia recognizing that the outdoors is for everyone and making these waterproof overpants available in extended sizes up to 6X , albeit for an extra tenner – although they’re very often reduced by up to 50%.)
- How Advnture tests products
Author of Caving, Canyoning, Coasteering… , a recently released book about all kinds of outdoor adventures around Britain, Pat has spent 20 years pursuing stories involving boots, bikes, boats, beers and bruises. En route he’s canoed Canada’s Yukon River, climbed Mont Blanc and Kilimanjaro, skied and mountain biked through the Norwegian Alps, run an ultra across the roof of Mauritius, and set short-lived records for trail-running Australia’s highest peaks and New Zealand’s Great Walks. He’s authored walking guides to Devon and Dorset , and once wrote a whole book about Toilets for Lonely Planet. Follow Pat’s escapades on Strava here and instagram here .
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