The Columbus and Central Ohio Metro Park System was created in 1945 and encompasses 14 parks on 22,500 acres in 7 different counties. Each park offers a unique combination of lodges, facilities, picnic areas, nature walk talks and activities. The parks are used by individuals, non-profit organizations like scouting, schools, and by private hiking, biking, and walking clubs for outdoor enjoyment, learning, and fitness.
Battelle-Darby Creek in Galloway features 7,000 acres of forest, prairies, and wetlands along the Big and Little Darby Creeks, which are both State and National Scenic Rivers. Bison have been reintroduced to the park and roam within two enclosed pastures.
Blacklick Woods in Reynoldsburg features 643 acres that includes swamp ponds and a golf course. It has one of the healthiest remaining beech-maple forests in Central Ohio, and a buttonbush swamp. Trails wind through all of this, allowing modern visitors to experience older-growth forests and restored swamps.
Blendon Woods in Westerville contains stream-cut ravines with ripple rock sandstone, and the 118-acre Walden Waterfowl Refuge that provides a sanctuary for migratory and year-round birds as well as hundreds of other creatures. Use the observation shelters with spotting scopes to add to your birding journals!
Chestnut Ridge in Carroll near Canal Winchester, is the area where the first ridge of the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains is found.
Clear Creek in Rockbridge, near Lancaster, offers over 5,000 acres of woodland, sandstone cliffs, ravines, and creeks and includes one of Ohio’s last remaining natural colonies of rhododendron, gorgeous when it blooms in late spring.
Glacier Ridge in Plain City is a park named for the glacial debris left behind when they retreated 12-17,000 years ago. Much of the area is reclaimed farmland. Stroll along a boardwalk over wetlands, or climb an observation tower to see waterfowl and other wetland animals.
Heritage Trail in Hilliard has a trail that runs parallel to the Heritage Rail Trail, with a bridle trail as well. The trail runs from Hilliard to Plain City.
High Banks in Lewis Center offers trails along the Olentangy, up and down bluffs and ravines, and in wintertime is a renowned sledding spot for much of Central Ohio.
Homestead in Hilliard is a smaller park that packs a lot into a few acres and offers a covered bridge, train station replica, barns, and a fishing pond.
Inniswood Gardens in Westerville is a series of curated gardens, nestled within a nature preserve. A beautiful example of man living in harmony with nature, there are multiple types of gardens including a rock garden, children’s garden, and several other themed gardens.
Pickerington Ponds in Pickerington is another great birdwatching spot, has seasonal ponds, wetlands, and woodlands. Deer, beaver, migrating waterfowl and shore birds, and plenty of other creatures are drawn to this idyllic park.
Prairie Oaks in Plain City offers flowering prairies, grasslands, and the Big Darby Creek. Deep lakes for fishing and boating are also available here.
Rocky Fork in Columbus offers an urban oasis with over three miles of walking trails, a dog park, an off-leash trail, and play area. Enjoy sitting in the big wooden chairs as you watch for deer, birds, and other animals in the open fields.
Scioto Audobon in Columbus, is a reclaimed industrial area along the Scioto River that includes a wildlife sanctuary, trails, climbing wall, recreation area, and wetlands. It was a collaboration between Columbus, Ohio Audobon, and the Metro Parks.
Scioto Grove in Grove City features 7 miles of trails, boat access to the Scioto River, and a great wintertime sledding hill. Also included is an overnight backpacking trail used by those new to the sport, and experienced enthusiasts wanting a quick trip to test out new gear.
Sharon Woods in Westerville is home to a nature center, educational programs, seasonal pools, and an 11-acre lake.
Slate Run in Canal Winchester offers grasslands, wetlands, and forested areas. Sandhill cranes nest here, and northern Bobwhite Quail have been reintroduced. The park offers a maple syrup festival in the early spring. Slate Run Historical farm is an educational center for all ages.
Three Creeks in Groveport is named for the confluence of Alum Creek, Big Walnut Creek, and Blacklick Creek. Beaver, mink, coyote, and deer live side by side with over 100 species of birds.
Walnut Grove in Groveport offers vernal pools, former tree farms, biking and hiking trails, along with a great sledding hill, dog park, and doggie swimming area.