10 Central Ohio Metro Park Playgrounds

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We love exploring the playgrounds in the Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks System! Combining a nature experience, be it a hike or looking for creatures in the woods, with time on a playground makes a perfect outing for my kids!

The Metro Parks offer so many free opportunities to learn about and explore nature even though we live in an urban area. I am constantly surprised every time I visit one of our Metro Parks. I always seem to say, “I can’t believe this is here!” You hike down a path and come into some kind of clearing or lake that just takes you by surprise and there is no sign of the city to be seen!

Despite all those opportunities to get up close with nature, sometimes it also just helps to have a playground as part of the experience! 🙂 Not all of the Metro Parks have playgrounds and some of them have more than one! Here are 10 Metro Parks that have fun playgrounds for kids!

10 Playgrounds within the Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks:

1. Scioto Grove Metro Park 

  • 5172 Jackson Pike, Grove City, OH 43123

Scioto Grove Metro Park Playground Slide

Scioto Grove Metro Park Playground rope climbing

Scioto Grove is the newest Metro Park in our area. This playground is really unique – it’s made nearly entirely out of rope!  This is NOT a toddler friendly playground, though, so use caution! This playground is in the Arrowhead Picnic Area. Parking and restrooms are close by.

Swingset at Scioto Grove Metro Park Playground

scioto grove metro park playground

2. Scioto Audubon Metro Park

  • 400 W. Whittier Street, Columbus, OH 43215

scioto audubon metro park playground

playground at scioto audubon metro park

The Scioto Audubon playground is in the Central Activities Area near the rock climbing wall and a water tower where you can climb to two observation decks. There are three play structures here and a shaded picnic area. Bathrooms are quite a distance away, in the Nature Center.

Play first and then plan to head up to the Nature Center where there is an outdoor sandbox, an indoor play area and aquatic animals to visit.

playground at scioto audubon metro park

rock climbing wall at scioto audubon metro park

3. Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park

  • Cedar Ridge Area, 1775 Darby Creek Drive Galloway, OH 43119

playground at battelle darby creek metro park

Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park has a couple of playground areas. This particular playground is in the Cedar Ridge Picnic Area. Parking and restrooms are very close. This playground has two structures: one for over 5 and one for under. There are picnic tables and pavilions close by.

Battelle Darby Creek is the Metro Park with the bison! It is possible to walk from the playground to see the bison, but it is probably around a half a mile, give or take. Definitely check out the Nature Center to see the living stream exhibit!

Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park Play area

battelle darby creek metro park playground

4. Rocky Fork Metro Park

  • 7180 E. Walnut Street, Westerville, OH 43081

rocky fork metro park playground

rocky fork metro park playground

Rocky Fork has another unique play area. It is a mostly wooden structure with steps, a bridge and slide. There is also a balance beam and some climbing opportunities! Nearby is a wildlife viewing area and picnic pavilion. Restrooms are close by as well.

rocky fork metro park playground

rocky fork metro park playground and picnic area

5. Blendon Woods Metro Park

  • 4265 E. Dublin Granville Rd., Westerville, OH 43081

blendon woods metro park playground area

Blendon Woods is another Metro Park with more than one play area. This particular play ground is in the Cherry Ridge Area near the Natural Play Area. My kids loved crawling through the wire tunnels here. Blendon Woods Nature Center has a great bird-viewing area and some hands on activities.

blendon woods metro park play ground

6. Homestead Metro Park

  • Homestead Metro Park, 4675 Cosgray Road, Hilliard, OH

homestead metro park play ground

homestead metro park play ground area

When it comes to playgrounds, I think Homestead wins the prize, hands down! It has a huge playground area! Not only is there a large play area, there is a train to climb onto, a train station replica called Bradley Station and a separate accessible playground with a train theme called Web Junktion. Train lovers rejoice!

There is a Nature Center at Homestead but the hours it is open vary based on ranger availability. Inside the Nature Center there are box turtles to visit! They do occasionally offer programs for toddlers here as well!

homestead metro park willard ohio playground area

homestead metro park playground train area

homestead metro park all abilities playground

7. Glacier Ridge Metro Park

  • 9801 Hyland-Croy Rd, Plain City, OH 43064

This new play structure at Glacier Ridge Metro Park was built in 2018 and is perfect for the wannabe Ninja Warrior! With a mini zip-line, climbing walls and a rope hammock, this playground is incredibly unique in the Central Ohio area!

glacier ridge metro park playground

glacier ridge metro park ninja warrior course

If you’re looking for a great Metro Park to explore, I found this one to be gorgeous! There is also a shelter with picnic tables and also information about the wildlife in the surrounding area. Also, don’t miss the watch tower where you can climb to the top to watch for birds and other creatures!

glacier ridge metro park play structure

There is also a more “traditional” playground in the same general area as well as an obstacle course!

glacier ridge metro park playground

glacier ridge metro park playground

8. Walnut Woods Metro Park

  • 6723 Lithopolis Rd, Groveport, OH 43125

walnut woods metro park playground

I love the playground at Walnut Woods Metro Park for the natural feel it has. It’s a small playground, but it’s unique!

boys rope climbing at walnut woods metro park playground

Rope and rock climbing are available, swings and a merry go round! Restrooms are close by as well!

merry go round at walnut woods metro park playground

9. Slate Run Metro Park

  • 1375 St. Rte. 674 North, Canal Winchester, OH 43110 

A new playground was built in early 2019 at Buzzard’s Roost Picnic area in Slate Run Metro Park! Also within the park is the Slate Run Living Historical Farm which will take you back in time to the 1880’s! You can visit with the farmer and his wife, meet the animals in the barn!

But back to the playground! There is a fun netted structure, a tire swing, regular swings and more!

Nearby are lots of picnic tables inside and outside of a large pavilion. Public restrooms are right on site, too, so it makes a great place for a picnic and play time!

10. Prairie Oaks Metro Park

  • 3225 NE Plain City-Georgesville Rd, West Jefferson, OH 43162

I really like this playground at Prairie Oaks Metro Park! I think it’s a good combination of traditional play equipment and a natural play feel. We had visited the park several times without knowing it was here! 

playground structure at Prairie Oaks Metro Park.

It’s great that the main play area has a shade cover! My sources tell me that is a new (and very welcome) addition to the playground!

playground area at Prairie Oaks Metro Park.

To find this playground you will want to head to the Prairie View Picnic Area! This playground is NOT on the map (as of summer 2021).rope climbing structure at Prairie Oaks Metro Park.

There is a really nice picnic area and restroom in this area so it makes for a perfect spot for an outing with the kids! When you visit this park, make sure to also check out the Darby Bend Lakes area. It is one of my favorite areas in all of the Metro Parks! I’ve included a hike in the Darby Bend Lakes area in my post of kid-friendly trails in the Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks!

Playground at Prairie Oaks Metro Park.

Do you have a favorite Metro Park playground?

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Amazing Metro Park Playgrounds in Columbus and Franklin County

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Pickerington Ponds Metro Park is For the Birds!

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Pickerington Ponds Metro Park is a haven for bird watchers. This Metro Park in Canal Winchester offers a breath of fresh air, beautiful scenery and lots of opportunities for bird watching!

Pickerington Ponds Metro Park, southeast of Columbus, Ohio, is one of Franklin County’s largest natural wetlands. Part of Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks, this park is perfect for bird watchers and viewing wildlife.

The park is made up of 1608 acres and features a state nature preserve. The park is pretty easy to visit in one trip and though this one doesn’t have a playground, my kids enjoyed the hikes and the 5 observation areas!

Use this guide to the park to explore each of the main areas in Pickerington Ponds Metro Park!

Wood Duck Picnic Area at Pickerington Ponds Metro Park

  • 4150 Bowen Road, Canal Winchester, OH 43110 

benches by the pond at Pickerington Ponds Metro Park

If you only have time to visit one area of Pickerington Ponds, I would choose the The Wood Duck Picnic area. Here there are 3 observation decks and a 1.1 mile trail (one way) for walking. There is also an open picnic shelter here which is handy for meals or snacks. There is no restroom at this location.

ducks on a pond.

1. Observation Deck

observation deck at the Wood Duck Picnic Area at Pickerington Ponds Metro Park.

When you park in the lot here, you can easily spot two paths to two observation decks. The first one I am mentioning here is raised and allows you to view part of the pond. There are binoculars on this deck that kids will enjoy looking through!

two boys on the observation deck.

2. Bird Blind

two boys on the path to the bird blind at Pickerington Ponds Metro Park.

The second viewing deck leads to a bird blind. This is a great place to bird watch without being seen by the birds!

two boys looking through the bird blind.

If you like bird watching, there is another bird blind with a great view at Blendon Woods Metro Park.

3. Killdeer Trail

Killdeer Trail at Pickerington Ponds Metro Park.

The trail here at Wood Duck Picnic Area is the Killdeer Trail. It is 1.1 miles one way. At the end of the trail you will be rewarded with the third observation deck (see below for more info)!

a small wooden bridge on Killdeer Trail.

Along the trail, on the other side of the largest part of Blue Wing Pond there is an eagle’s nest. I was determined to see an eagle on our most recent trip to the park, but it was not to be! Eagle nests are easiest to see in the winter before the leaves are on the trees and you won’t be able to miss this one!

eagle's nest at Pickerington Ponds Metro Park.

4. Observation Deck at Pintail Marsh

Observation deck at Pintail Marsh.

At the end of Killdeer Trail you will arrive at Pintail Marsh. There is a small viewing platform here and a bench. There were a lot of birds in this area of the trail!

view from the observation deck at pintail marsh.

5. Yellowlegs Trail

Yellowlegs Trail is a short half mile off-shoot that will take you from the Killdeer Trail to the park office. Just a short distance on this trail will take you to the County Bridge!

6. County Bridge

The County Bridge in Pickerington Ponds Metro Park.

According to the sign in the park, the County Bridge was originally built in 1897 and abandoned for use in 1937 when the original road was relocated. The bridge was restored and moved to the Metro Park in 2004. It now crosses George’s Creek on the Yellowlegs Trail!

Glacier Knoll Picnic Area at Pickerington  Ponds Metro Park

  • 4071 Bowen Road, Canal Winchester, OH 43110

The Glacier Knoll Picnic Area has an open picnic shelter and restrooms! There is access to the Arrowhead Trail and the Black Creek Greenway Trail which connects the park to Three Creeks and Blacklick Woods Metro Parks. There is also a nice viewing deck here.

1. Picnic Shelter and Restrooms

Restrooms and picnic area at Glacier Knoll Picnic Area at Pickerington Ponds Metro Park.

This is a nice area for picnicking and wildlife viewing! During 2020-21 this is the only restroom in the park that is open. 

2. Observation Deck

Observation deck at the Glacier Knoll Picnic Area.

As I mentioned above, there is a nice sized viewing deck here at Glacier Knoll. There are binoculars here which offer a good view of an Osprey roost across the way! 

boy looking through binoculars at the observation deck at Glacier Knoll Picnic Area.

Pictured below in the distance is the osprey nest. I actually took the picture below from the Killdeer Trail across the road, but you can see this area using the binoculars here at Glacier Knoll.

Osprey nest at Pickerington Ponds Metro Park.

3. Fitness Station

exercise equipment at Pickerington Ponds Metro Park.

If you need an extra challenge, or the kids want to do some chin ups, there is a exercise station in the Glacier Knoll area opposite the parking lot! If you’re looking for a playground, check out one of these 9 Central Ohio Metro Park Playgrounds or check out the challenge course at Glacier Ridge Metro Park.

Ellis Pond (Bowen Road Entrance) at Pickerington Ponds Metro Park

  • 5000 Bowen Road, Canal Winchester, OH 43110

Ellis Pond was a new area to us on our most recent visit to the park! First of all, let me say there are two parking areas at Ellis Pond: one on Bowen Rd. and one on Wright Rd. Wright Rd is a smaller area and the entrance at Bowen Rd. has a restroom (closed in 2020), a mural and a covered wooden viewing deck.

restrooms and seating area at Ellis Pond.

1. Pickerington Ponds Mural

Pickerington Ponds Mural.

The Pickerington Ponds Mural is a highlight to see here. The mural was presented in 1993 and features work from local students. There is also some mosaic work on the side of the restroom pictured above.

2. Observation Area

two boys in the observation area at Ellis Pond.

There is observation area with binoculars close to the mural. There is a large gravel area here (not accessible by car) and a couple of benches.

3. Covered Observation Deck

covered observation deck at Pickerington Ponds Metro Park.

The covered observation deck here is a fun place to watch ducks and geese or to take a rest on one of the benches.

up close view of the covered deck.

Ellis Pond (Wright Road Viewing Area) at Pickerington Ponds Metro Park

Great Blue Heron Viewing area at Pickerington Ponds Metro Park.

The other entrance on Ellis Pond is off of Wright Rd. and has a small parking lot and area to sit and watch the bird feeders or birds on Ellis Pond. There are no picnic pavilions or restrooms at this area.

Know Before You Go:

  • Main Address: 7680 Wright Rd., Canal Winchester, OH 43110
  • Park Hours: 6:30 AM until dark. (Closing will vary depending on the season.)

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Pickerington Ponds Metro Park.

 


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Scioto Grove Metro Park in Grove City is Full of Hidden Gems

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Scioto Grove Metro Park in Grove City is known for it’s picturesque rope bridge, scenic overlooks and unique playground!

One of the newer of the Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks, Scioto Grove has some unique features! Possibly the most famous is the Rope Bridge on the REI Trail. This bridge can be difficult to find if you’re not familiar with the park so read on to find out exactly where it is!

two boys walking across the rope bridge at Scioto Grove Metro Park in Grove City, Ohio.

Scioto Grove Metro Park also has a unique playground. It’s not your typical playground structure. This play area is made up of a rope structure and slides. It’s not safe for toddlers, but older kids will love the challenge of this play area! Don’t worry there are also swings and a round glider swing if you have younger kids with you!

This park is right along the Scioto River and canoeing and kayaking are an option here! There is canoeing access at the North and South ends of the park. See the park map here.

Read on to find out what there is to do in Scioto Grove Metro Park organized by area of the park!

Things to do at Scioto Grove Metro Park: Hickory Picnic Area

1. Fishing

At the Hickory Picnic area there is a fishing pond. There is a nice little deck on the water that is great for fishing. There are also spots along the pond where you can fish from the side of the water.

deck and fishing area at the pond.

The Overlook Trail borders the eastern side of the pond and takes you either to the canoe launch to the north or to a series of observations decks to the south.

boys along the edge of the fishing pond at Scioto Grove Metro Park.
2. Observation Decks

observation deck at the Arrowhead Picnic Area.

Follow the Overlook Trail south from the Hickory Picnic area to  a series of three observation decks.  Look out for birds and other wildlife! This trail is largely unpaved and can get muddy or wet when there has been a lot of rain.

You can also take the Multipurpose trail from the Hickory Picnic Area to the Arrowhead Picnic Area (see more info below). It won’t take you to the observation decks, but it is paved and you will end up at the same place!

Things to do at Scioto Grove Metro Park: Arrowhead Picnic Area

1. Playground

playground area at scioto grove metro park.

The playground area at Scioto Grove Metro Park consists mainly of this rope structure pictured above. There are two slides and lots of opportunity to climb! As I mentioned above, this isn’t a great park for toddlers but older kids who are a little more steady on their feet will love this one!

rope play structure and slides at the playground in the park.

tall blue slide on the playground at Scioto Grove Metro Park.

The rope structure is not the only playground equipment in the area. There are swings and a glider swing.

swings in the playground at Scioto Grove Metro Park.

2. Sledding Hill

Behind the playground and picnic area at Arrowhead Picnic Area is a sledding hill! 

3. Backpacking 

two boys playing at a backpacking site.

There are several backpacking sites in Scioto Grove Metro Park. Backpacking sites include a raised area for a tent and reservations can be made to spend Friday and Saturday nights between April and October. Make a reservation by calling 614-539-3339.

4. REI River Trail

boy walking on the REI River Trail.

The REI River Trail is a great path to hike right along the Scioto River. This path is not paved but is an easy hike. The trail begins at the far north end of the park and ends at the Rope Bridge which you can read about below. The entire trail is 1.8 miles long.

a father and son walking on the path at Scioto Grove Metro Park.

5. Observation Deck

a man and two boys on the observation deck in the park.

There is another observation deck at the Arrowhead Picnic Area. I love these peaceful decks for the opportunity they the offer to sit and observe nature. You never know what you might see!

Things to do at Scioto Grove Metro Park: Grove Lodge

1. Observation Deck

two boys looking over the observation deck at Grove Lodge.

Park at the Grove Lodge and head to the left of the lodge to an observation deck. What you see here will depend on the season and the leaf cover but it’s a nice entrance point to the REI Trail which you will read about next!

2. Rope Bridge

the rope bridge at scioto grove metro park.

One of the most unique things to see and do in Scioto Grove Metro Park is the Rope Bridge! This bridge crosses the Grant Run Creek. The easiest way to get to the Rope Bridge is to park at the Grove Lodge and take the REI River Trail south from the lodge.

the rope bridge across the creek at scioto grove metro park.

The Rope Bridge is just before the REI River Trail meets the Mingo Trail. The Grove Lodge parking lot is the closest parking lot to the Rope Bridge. 

the rope bridge at scioto grove metro park.

The path to the Rope Bridge is not paved and it can get muddy.

two boys standing at the edge of the Scioto River.

When you get to the bridge there is also a rock path crossing the creek. This would be a fun area for creeking!

stone steps across the creek.

Overall, Scioto Grove is a great park to visit with your family! With hiking, a playground, picnic areas and the rope bridge, you can easily fill a morning or afternoon with lots of fun outdoor activities!

Know Before You Go:

Address: 5172 Jackson Pike, Grove City, OH 43123

There is one main entrance for the park and the road will lead to each of these areas.

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Scioto Grove Metro Park


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