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How to Explore Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park with Your Kids

Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park is the largest of the Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks and features hiking, canoeing, fishing, a great Nature Center and bison who roam within the park!

Railroad Bridge in Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park

Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park is in the southwest corner of Franklin County and its heart is the intersection of Big Darby Creek and Little Darby Creek.

This park, one of the Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks, is full of things to do! Since it is the largest park, it can take several visits to see and do everything! We spent several years just entering two different entrances. It wasn’t until the summer of 2020 that I really made an effort to explore the park starting at some of the other entrances!

I’ve divided up this post into things you can do at each entrance. Use this map to explore the park. To date we haven’t even explored all of the park entrances yet! But never fear, I will update this post as we do!

The two entrances we used the most were Cedar Ridge and the Nature Center. After 2020, the Indian Ridge Area is now a new favorite! Check out all there is to do at this Metro Park and enjoy the beauty and unique activities each area offers!

Things to do at the Cedar Ridge Area of Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park:

This area of the park has a large parking lot, restrooms, a playground and access to trails.

Address: 1775 Darby Creek Drive Galloway, OH 43119

1. Darby Creek Greenway Trail

Two boys and dad walking Darby Creek Greenway Trail

The Darby Creek Greenway Trail runs for 5 miles beginning here and heading north to the Darby Dan area at the northern most end of the park. We frequently walk this trail between the Cedar Ridge Picnic Area and the Nature Center to view the bison at the bison viewing area.

large tree at Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park

3. Bison Viewing

boy looking at the bison at Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park

Seeing the bison is always the highlight of our visit to Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park and we hardly ever visit the park without at least attempting to see them!

Take a walk on the Darby Creek Greenway Trail towards the Nature Center and you will come upon the Bison Viewing Area. During the warm months, this area is where the park’s bison hang out. (See the Nature Center area for winter pasture information.)

Bison freely roaming at Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park

Bring a pair of binoculars if you want to be sure that you’ll see them up close! Sometimes you luck out and they are really close to the viewing area. Other times they will be further away. But it’s always worth trying to find them!

If you’re not sure where they are in the park, check in with a park ranger or at the Nature Center. They will be able to tell you for sure.

3. Playgrounds

Playground structure at Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.

There are actually three playground areas at the Cedar Ridge Entrance! These playgrounds were newly remodeled in 2022.

New playground at Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park in Columbus, Ohio.

When you enter at Cedar Ridge, you will first come upon an area with two play structures on your right. There is one for older kids and one for younger kids.

Playground structure for older kids at Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.

If you continue a little further down from that playground area, you will come upon another playground area on your left. These pictures (below) were taken in August of 2022 and the playground was still being finished but it looks to be done very soon!

New Playground at Battelle Darby Creek metro Park.

There are also swings at the playground that’s further from the entrance.

Rope climbing structure on the playground.

It’s nice to have the option of the playground here to add motivation for kids to make the rest of the hike if you’re coming from the Nature Center or the bison viewing area! There is also a picnic area here.

4. Observation Deck

view from the Observation Deck in the Cedar Ridge Area

To be completely honest I had totally forgotten about this overlook area until I was organizing my photos from 2015! Now I wish I had remembered to visit each fall since then!

To find the observation deck, you will take part of the Cobshell Trail which you can access in between the playground area and the picnic area. The trail is a .1 mile walk west towards Big Darby Creek.

boy and dad walking on a boardwalk in Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park

5. Hawthorne Trail

Boys on the Hawthorne trail in the metro park.

The Hawthorne Trail can be found to the east of the parking lot at Cedar Ridge. (On your left if you’re driving in from the entrance.) it is a paved trail that is great for strollers!

6. Cobshell Trail

The Cobshell Trail in winter.

The Cobshell Trail is a dirt trail and it loops around in several areas to the west of the parking lot. There are several entrances and it will take you to the observation deck (listed above) and also down to Big Darby Creek.

Boy and dad on the Cobshell trail by Big Darby Creek at Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.

Things to do at the Indian Ridge Area of Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park:

The Indian Ridge Area is one of our new favorites! With a playground, great creeking and shaded trails it’s a definite go-to area!

Address: 2705 Darby Creek Drive Galloway, OH 43119

1. Playground

Playground area at Indian Ridge Area of Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park

The Indian Ridge area also has two playgrounds structures, one for older kids and one for younger. There is also a set of swings.

2. Picnic Area

picnic area and pavilion at the Indian Ridge Area

Near to the playground area is a picnic area and a small shelter with tables inside. With access to the playground and near to a great spot for creeking, this area is perfect for families to spend a day!

3. Big Darby Creek

Railroad Bridge over Big Darby Creek in Galloway, Ohio

There is access to the creek off of the Camp Chase Trail. The view of the railroad bridge is striking and makes for a great backdrop to searching for crawdads and splashing at the edge of the creek. Use caution here as it can get quite deep in areas near the bridge. It’s best to stay close to the shore in the shallowest area.

There are also large rocks for sitting and watching. The large rocks came from “twin bridges” that used to span the creek here. Above the creeks there used to be a grist mill and the railroad bridge here is still in use today!

Creeking area at Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park

4. Natural Play Area

Natural Play Area at Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park

I’m listing this here because the Natural Play area is on the map here but we did not find this area to be like some of the other Natural Play Areas within Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks. It was pretty overgrown and it was hard to see any open area for the kids to play from the trail so we did not try to venture inside.

5. Terrace Trail

man and two boys on the Terrace Trail

The Terrace Trail makes a 2.1 mile loop throughout the Indian Ridge Area. We accessed it from the Camp Chase Trail which you will see behind the playground and picnic area by the parking lot.

Just a short walk south and you will find another creek access point where kids can wade into the water. There is another entrance/exit point at the southern part of the parking lot (or you can just turn around) if you don’t want to hike the entire 2.1 mile trail.

Things to do at the Canoe Access and Ohio to Erie Trailhead Area of Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park:

This area has a small parking lot that is mainly for those accessing the creek for canoeing. There is also a sledding hill here but we have not personally used it.

Address: 8465 Alkire Rd Galloway, OH 43119

1. Canoe Access

canoeing access area at Big Darby Creek

Canoeing is allowed on the Little Darby Creek and the Big Darby Creek and this is the main launch area for canoes or kayaks. Throughout the warmer months, Columbus and Franklin County Metro parks offers public canoeing times within the park.

2. Sledding Hill

There is a sledding hill here at this area. As I mentioned above, we have not gone sledding here ourselves, but if you’re looking for a hill in the area this is it!

Things to do at the Nature Center Area of Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park:

The Nature Center Area has a large parking lot, access to trails and, of course, the Nature Center itself which is a gem!

Address: 1415 Darby Creek Drive Galloway, OH 43119

1. The Nature Center

Boy looks into the Living Stream inside the Nature Center

The Nature Center at Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park is a must see! The Living Stream is the highlight of the Nature Center. Kids can view live fish and turtles right at eye level. They can even crawl “underneath” the stream to see from the inside! You’re even allowed to touch!

boy and dad looking at a turtle in the living stream inside the Nature Center

There are also educational exhibits about local wildlife that are interactive. Many times there are animal pelts out for kids to touch and feel. Educational programing is held here throughout the year.

2. Riffle Run Trail

boy on riffle run trail

The Riffle Run Trail is a short .2 mile hike downhill to the Big Darby Creek. There’s a great view and the trail ends right at the water. It’s a steep hill – you’ll be out of breath when you get back to the top – but doable for kids.

When we hiked the trail in January, there was someone pushing a stroller, so I guess I should never say never, but I wouldn’t recommend taking a stroller since the hill is steep and the trail is gravel.

Big Darby Creek in the winter.

3. Winter Pasture for Bison

bison in the winter pasture at Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park

If it’s winter, the bison will most likely be in the winter pasture which is behind the Nature Center. There is an overlook deck at the Nature Center with binoculars which is a great spot for viewing them if they are there.

Things to do at Osprey Lake Area of Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park:

Osprey Lake

This area of the park is a bit further south and may add an extra 10 minutes or so to your drive depending on where you’re coming from. I will say that this area felt a little more desolate than the other areas. There weren’t as many other people around, which, I suppose, can be good or bad, depending on how you roll.

Address: 5800 Harrisburg-Georgesville Rd Darbydale, OH 43123

1. Fishing on Osprey Lake

boys throwing rocks into Osprey Lake in Darbydale, Ohio

There are many spots around the lake that are great for fishing. Fishing is allowed here or anywhere along Big Darby or Little Darby Creeks. Anyone 16 and older needs an Ohio fishing license.

2. Osprey Lake Trail

boys walking on Osprey Lake Trail

Osprey Lake Trail is a .5 mile trail around Osprey Lake. This is a pretty area with many spots for fishing. The trail is grass and gravel.

3. Canoe Access

Canoe access in Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park

There is canoeing access to the Big Darby Creek in this area of the park. And if you just like to get down near the creek, this is a nice spot as well.

There is so much to do at Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park! I highly recommending trying a new entrance each time you visit! It’s so great to see new areas of the park and it almost seems like you’re visiting a new park each time!

There is even more to see and do than is listed here! Enjoy exploring new trails and treasures and let me know what you find!

Know Before You Go:

Address: 1775 Darby Creek Dr, Galloway, OH 43119 (This will take you to the Cedar Ridge Picnic Area.)

Hours: Open Daily from 6:30 AM to 8:00 PM

Nature Center Hours: Opens at 9:00 AM. Closing time varies depending on the season. (Nature Center is currently closed during the winter of 2021.)

Nature Center: 614-878-7106

Metro Parks Info Line: 614-508-8000

Looking to explore more Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks? Read more here:

Exploring Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park with your Kids

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Things to do at Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park

Sean McKee

Sunday 31st of January 2021

Great park, I love to go there and hike the long trails.