There’s no better time of year to get outside and stretch your legs! Columbus is very fortunate to have more than 20 metro parks and greenways, representing 28,000 acres of land with 230 miles of trails and 20 natural play areas.
This year, the Columbus Outdoor Trails Pass includes over 40 locations, including 20 new destinations, to help you make the most of hiking, biking, paddling and walking around Central Ohio! There’s a number of metro parks to discover, and itineraries to help you get started on your journey.
Whether you’re taking advantage of the Outdoor Trails Pass, or exploring a new metro park this Summer, here are 10 of the best parks to experience around Columbus:
Quarry Trails Metro Park
The newest park to open in Columbus, Quarry Trials is perhaps the most unique as well. Outfitted with a gorgeous waterfall and multiple activities (like canoeing and mountain biking), this park is a must-see for visitors and residents alike.
Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park
Situated along 13 miles of the scenic Big and Little Darby Creeks, Battelle Darby Creek allows you to explore more than 7,000 acres of varying landscapes, from riverbanks to prairies to thick forests. Hike the trails along the creeks, go wading to catch some crayfish (or crawdads!), and stop by the beautiful nature center to spot bison roaming around.
Glacier Ridge Metro Park
Spanning over 1,000 acres of former farmland, Glacier Ridge in Plain City features plenty of walking paths, a boardwalk through the wetlands, and a 25-foot observation tower for spotting waterfowl. Your kids will especially enjoy the outdoor obstacle course perfect for adventurers of all ages.
Rocky Fork Metro Park
Spanning more than 1,000 acres, Rocky Fork in Westerville features a wide variety of trails, including paved and rougher hiking trails, a bridle trail, and an off-leash dog trail (plus an accompanying dog park).
Blendon Woods Metro Park
Blendon Woods in Westerville mixes steep ravines and dense woods. It’s an ideal park for birdwatching, from wild turkeys to songbirds to waterfowl. The park features two elevated and enclosed shelters for observing waterfowl through scopes along the ponds. Don't forget to bring your discs! Blendon Woods also boats an impressive disc golf course.
Homestead Metro Park
The 44-acre Homestead Park in Hilliard offers a variety of experiences, including a shorter paved trail, an outdoor amphitheater, a covered bridge, and a replica train station.
Highbanks Metro Park
The much-loved Highbanks in Lewis Center borders the Olentangy River with tall shale bluffs. Visitors can learn about the resident animals at the nature center, walk or bike the many paths, picnic in the meadows, or hike out to the observation deck along the bluffs, where you may be able to spot bald eagles nesting.
Pickerington Ponds Metro Park
Pickerington Ponds is a favorite spot for birdwatchers. Hundreds of species have been spotted amongst the wetlands and in the woods around the 1,600-acre park.
Scioto Audubon Metro Park
Scioto Audubon Park is an oasis just south of downtown Columbus, a former brownfield that has been completely transformed into a space for walking, climbing, biking, and birdwatching. Let the kids play on the playground, try your hand at the climbing wall, enjoy spectacular views of the city skyline, and visit the Grange Insurance Audubon Center to learn more about the wildlife of the area and to spend time birdwatching.
Slate Run Metro Park
Covering more than 1,700 acres, Slate Run features a diverse mix of habitats, from forests to wetlands, open grasslands to meadows. Take a stroll through the park to spy a variety of wildlife. Pair a park visit with a stop at Slate Run Living Historical Farm nearby, where you can tour an 1856 farmhouse, visit the barns, help tend the gardens, interact with animals, chat with costumed volunteers, and generally learn about Ohio farm life in the 1880s.
For a complete list of central Ohio metro parks, events, and other information, visit the Metro Parks website. Have fun exploring this season and don't forget to share your memories with us using #LiveForwardCbus.