Metro Parks (Columbus, Ohio)

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The Metro Parks are a group of 16 metropolitan parks in and around Columbus, Ohio. They are officially organized as the "Columbus and Franklin County Metropolitan Park District". The Metro Parks system was organized in 1945 under Ohio Revised Code Section 1545 as a separate political division of the state of Ohio. The Metro Parks are overseen by a Board of Park Commissioners consisting of three citizens appointed to three-year terms without compensation by the Judge of the Probate Court of Franklin County, Ohio. The Board in turn appoints an Executive Director responsible for operations and management of the parks.

The Metro Parks system protects over 24,500 acres of land and water and extends over seven counties in Central Ohio and the Hocking Hills area. Facilities and programs include trails, shelters, lodges, nature centers, educational facilities and programs, natural resources management, stormwater management, picnicking, boating, and other recreational activities.

Parks[edit]

Battelle Darby Creek[edit]

Located near Galloway, this is the largest park at over 7,000 acres.[1] Unique features include restored prairie areas that house a group of American bison, a large nature center with exhibits about the exceptional biodiversity of Big Darby Creek, and a Fort Ancient mound. Much of the land for the park was donated by the Battelle Memorial Institute.

Blacklick Woods and Blacklick Woods Golf Course[edit]

Blacklick Woods Metro Park

Opened in 1949, and located in Reynoldsburg, this is the oldest park in the system. Within the forested area of the park is the Walter A. Tucker State Nature Preserve.

Blendon Woods[edit]

Located in Northeast Columbus near Westerville, Blendon Woods contains rolling forest land along with the Walden Waterfowl Refuge. A disc golf course is also open to the public.

Chestnut Ridge[edit]

Opened in 1988, Chestnut Ridge is located on the first ridge in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains southeast of Columbus near Carroll.[2] At 1,116 feet (340 m) AMSL, it rises approximately 300 feet above the surrounding land. On clear days, it is possible to see the skyline of Downtown Columbus from one of the overlook points on top of the ridge. Other features of the park include picnic areas and extensive mountain biking trails.

Clear Creek[edit]

The most remote of all Columbus Metro Parks, Clear creek is located near Rockbridge in the Hocking Hills region of southeast Ohio. Nearly the entire park is designated a State Nature Preserve, making off trail activity prohibited. Unique features of the park include stands of hemlock trees, numerous deep hollows, and wildflowers.

Glacier Ridge[edit]

Just northwest of Dublin, Glacier Ridge opened to the public in 2002.[3] The park contains a paved multi-use trail, a disc golf course, a bridle trail, and a large wetland area.

Heritage Trail[edit]

This Linear park located in Hilliard opened in 1995. The primary feature of the park is a 7-mile (11 km) multi-use trail.

Highbanks[edit]

Highbanks Metro Park

The most visited in the park system, Highbanks contains exceptional natural features and was designated as a National Natural Landmark. Located near Lewis Center, the park was named for large shale bluffs that overlook the Olentangy River. Within the park is a large nature center, a sledding hill, a Natural Play Area where off trail activity is permitted, Adena culture mounds, and the Edward F. Hutchins State Nature Preserve.

Inniswood Botanical Garden and Nature Preserve (Inniswood Metro Gardens)[edit]

Unique among the Metro Parks, Inniswood is primarily a managed botanical garden. Located in Westerville, there are a number of theme gardens that showcase various plant communities.

Pickerington Ponds[edit]

A State Nature Preserve in Southeast Columbus, this park was first acquired in 1986. It is primarily focused on providing a habitat for various birds and contains many wetland areas.

Prairie Oaks[edit]

Located on the Franklin/Madison County border, Prairie Oaks first opened to the public in 2000.[4] As the name suggests, the park contains large areas of restored Oak Savannah that were common in the area prior to European settlement in the 1800s. A former quarry area in the eastern part of the park provides boating opportunities as well as a canine swimming area.

Scioto Audubon[edit]

The most urban of the Metro Parks, Scioto Audubon is located in the Brewery District near Downtown Columbus. The park is a major bird migration stopover, and as such hosts the Grange Insurance Audubon Center. Opened in 2008, the park is situated on a peninsula stretching into the Scioto River and contains numerous wetland areas. Other features include multi-use trail connection to the north and south, a climbing wall, and an old water tower with an overlook deck.

Sharon Woods[edit]

Named for Sharon Township where it is located, this park is among the most frequently visited. Schrock Lake provides fishing opportunities, and the park also includes the Edward S. Thomas Nature Preserve containing a number of old growth oak trees. A multi-use trail runs along the perimeter of the park.

Slate Run and Slate Run Living Historical Farm[edit]

South of Canal Winchester, this park's most notable feature is an 1880s era working historical farm staffed by volunteers. Visitors can see 19th century farm life, interact with the farm animals, and learn about canning and meat preservation. Other parts of the park include extensive hiking trails and a restored wetland area.

Three Creeks[edit]

Managed in cooperation with the City of Columbus, Three Creeks is located near Groveport and Bexley. Along the confluence trail, visitors can see where Alum, Big Walnut and Blacklick Creeks merge. Picnic areas, lakes, and extensive trails round out the features of this park.

Walnut Woods[edit]

Opened in 2011, this park encompasses a former tree nursery. Located just east of the village of Groveport, Walnut Woods also includes two dog parks - one for large dogs and one for small dogs. Wetland restoration is ongoing in the central part of the park.

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