This post is written by Courtney Denning, blogger at You can follow her on Twitter @CourtneyDenning.

Clear CreekWhen the weather turns cold, it’s tempting to stay inside, wrap yourself in a blanket and watch television. What is there to do outside (other than freeze) during winter in Central Ohio? The Columbus Metro Parks have the answer - their Winter Hikes! This cold weather tradition began in 1973 and continues to draw huge crowds.

Blacklick Woods Snowy PathThe hikes take place at a metro park on select weekends during the months of January and February. Hikes begin at 10 a.m. or 2 p.m. Many locations offer guided hikes with a park naturalist, but you can hike on your own. Options include one to seven miles, depending on the park and how strenuous of a hike you’re after. All hikes offer refreshments like hot chocolate, soup or a baked potato at the end of the walk. After trudging through cold snow, nothing is better than a cup of hot chocolate or coffee! If you complete seven out of twelve hikes in a season, you'll receive a decorative patch. If it's your second time completing seven hikes, you'll receive a year patch.

Blacklick Woods - Barred OwlHere are a few tips to help you make the most of your first hike:

1. Dress warm -- Layers are the best! Failing to dress warm enough can ruin your enjoyment of the hike and make you miserable! If you get too warm you can always remove an outer layer. 2. Hydrate! There will be beverages at the end of the hike, but you should stay hydrated during the hike by carrying a water bottle with you. Don't overdo it, it's difficult to get all those layers off to use the restroom! 3. Arrive a little early. Plan to be at the park 15 minutes before the hike begins. These are popular events, and parking can take ten minutes or more. Park staff will be on site to direct traffic. We've always found a parking space but it usually takes a while! 4. Bring your camera and/or binoculars. The parks are beautiful year-round, but they shine in winter! Bring your camera to capture the beauty - and share it with your friends on social media! Binoculars are great, especially if you're a birdwatcher. Last year we saw a Barred Owl at Blacklick Woods! 5. Bring a friend! We see lots of families and friends walking and hiking together - it's a great way to socialize and exercise!

Check out the Columbus Metro Park Winter Hikes next year - it's a great alternative to hibernating with Netflix all winter!