Glacier Ridge Metro Park Offers Tons of Fun For Families

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Glacier Ridge Metro Park is one of the most unique of the Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks and offers lots of fun for kids and families!

Glacier Ridge Metro Parks in the Plain City/Dublin/Jerome area of Central Ohio and is named after the glaciers that shaped the park many years ago! The park is full of little gems that make it extra fun for kids! It’s truly one of my favorite of the Metro Parks to take my kids because there is enough to keep them active and entertained for a good portion of the day!

two boys hiking at Glacier Ridge Metro Park

There are two entrances to the park, the Main Entrance and the Honda Wetland Education Area Entrance. Both entrances are on Hyland-Croy Road. If you have the time, I definitely recommend checking out the activities at both.

If you bike, there is a trail between the two entrance areas. The Ironwood Trail is 2.8 miles long and connects to both ends of the park. Otherwise, driving is between the two is your best bet! There is ample parking at both entrances. See the park map.

Things to do at the Main Entrance of Glacier Ridge Metro Park:

The address of the Main Entrance at Glacier Ridge Metro Park is 9801 Hyland Croy Rd Plain City OH 43064. There are a couple of parking areas around a loop within this area of the park.

1. Ninja Course

ninja course natural play area at Glacier Ridge Metro Park

I don’t even think “ninja course” is the official name for this play area.  It’s considered one of Columbus and Franklin County Metro Park’s natural play areas but I and lots of other people I know call it the Ninja Course! Because here kids can pretend they are on their very own episode of American Ninja Warrior!

This natural play area was built in partnership with The Ohio State University Knowlton School of Architecture and is made up of three “Play Forms”: The Ramps, Towers and Platforms.

Natural Play Area Play Forms at Glacier Ridge Metro Park

This has to be one of the coolest things in all of the Metro Parks if you have kids! We happened to stumble upon this by complete accident the week that it opened a couple of years ago! It was a hit with the kids!

The Ninja Course has several climbing structures, a rope hammock, wall climbing, rope climbing, a small zip line and lots of opportunities to hide and seek!

boy on zip line at Glacier Ridge Metro Park

The Marsh Hawk Zip Line is probably the most popular feature of the park. It’s designed for kids ages 5 and up with a weight limit of 350 lbs. 

2. Challenge Course

 

boy on the challenge course at Glacier Ridge Metro park

The Challenge Course at Glacier Ridge Metro Park offers 13 obstacles like the Tire Run, Frog Jump, Tunnel Crawl and more. For the record, this course is designed for those who are age 12 and up. Anyone under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult and the obstacles are to be encountered at your own risk.

There, now that all of the disclaimers are out of the way, my kids (who were 6 and 9 at the time) really enjoyed trying out the obstacles. I was shocked to see my usually cautious 9 year old scale the Cargo Climb!

boy on the Cargo Climb at Glacier Ridge Metro Park

Of course serious athletes use the Challenge Course as a darn good workout, but some of the elements are fun and challenging exercises for kids and amateurs , too!

kids on the obstacle course at Glacier Ridge Metro Park

The Challenge Course is right across the path from the Natural Play Area/Ninja Course so there is plenty in this area to keep kids active and employing large muscle movement!

3. Natural Play Area

kids in the Natural Play Area at Glacier Ridge Metro Park

Just behind the wooden “play forms” that I am calling the Ninja Course is a Natural Play Area consisting of stick forts and tree trunks. Kids can be king (or queen) of their own wooden castle! I love the open ended imaginative play these Natural Play Areas inspire!

Glacier Ridge Metro Park Natural Play Area

If you’re looking for more ideas, Blendon Woods has a great Natural Play Area!

4. Hiking

Red Oak Trail at Glacier Ridge

The most hiking we have done in this area of the park is on the Red Oak Trail, a pretty trail through the Natural Play Area. It’s a great spot for a walk in the fall! There are lots of kid-friendly trails within the Metro Parks!

5. Playground

playground at Glacier Ridge Metro Park

After listing all of the really unique areas for kids to play, an actual playground seems a little bit anticlimactic, but there is one and it’s right there by the Natural Play Area, Ninja Course and Challenge Course, so if your kids have any energy left (somehow they always do) send them over to the playground!

Things to do at The Honda Wetland Education Area Entrance of Glacier Ridge Metro Park:

The address of the Honda Wetland Education Area Entrance is 7825 Hyland Croy Rd., 43064. There is one main parking area here by the Education Center.

1. Honda Wetland Education Center

Honda Wetland's Education Area

While I wouldn’t call this a full on Nature Center, the Honda Wetland Education Center is a barn-like structure that offers information about the inhabitants of wetland areas. There is posted information about birds, ducks, insects and other plants and animals that can be found in the area including a list of 68 plants and animals that can be found in the wetlands.

Honda Wetland Education Center at Glacier Ridge Metro Park

I’ve visited this area when it was wet and when it was dry, in the summer and in the fall. It’s definitely more striking when wet, but it’s interesting to see how it can change based on how much precipitation we have had and what season it is when you visit. I’ve included some pictures for comparison in the next few sections!

boy at the Honda Wetland Education Center at Glacier Ridge Metro Park

2. Observation Tower

25 foot observation deck at Glacier Ridge

This 25-foot observation tower has binoculars and is fun to climb. It’s great to view the park from the top! It’s also a great place for kids to play pirates and soldiers! 😉

This picture in June 2018:

boy looking through the binoculars at Glacier Ridge Metro Park

This one in November 2020:

boy looking through binoculars at Glacier Ridge Metro Park

6. Hiking

bare tree at the end of a boardwalk at Glacier Ridge Metro Park

The Boardwalk Trail is a short walk (.2 miles one way) from the Honda Wetland Education Center. The last time we were there it was pretty dry, but in theory, the boardwalk is through the wetland area.

I always think there’s something extra special about walking on a boardwalk trail and this is an easy and picturesque trail to do with kids. I love the tall trees here. They are always so striking.

This first picture was taken in June of 2018:

boardwalk trail at Glacier Ridge Metro Park

And this one in November 2020:

two boys on the boardwalk trail at Glacier Ridge Metro Park

As you can see, Glacier Ridge Metro Park offers tons of fun for families! I hope you can plan a trip to visit this unique Columbus and Franklin County Metro Park!

Exploring Columbus with Your Kids

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Exploring Glacier Ridge Metro Park


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Sawmill Wetlands Educational Area is an Oasis off Sawmill Road

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The Sawmill Wetlands Educational Area is a small nature oasis in the middle of the busy Sawmill Road shopping area!

boardwalk path in the Sawmill Wetlands Columbus Ohio

I have a running list of things to see and places to go, but sometimes I just zoom in and out on Google Maps and look for something interesting – green spaces, parks, hidden gems, etc.! And this is one of those times. I ran across a random green area in the middle of the big box shopping area that is Sawmill Road.

boy walking the path in the Sawmill Wetlands Education Area

After some zooming in and Google searching I discovered that the Sawmill Wetlands were once endangered and were saved after a 7 year fight against development. The wetlands reopened to the public after that time period in 2018.

mourning dove feeding at a bird feeder

The park is open from dawn to dusk and covers 17.5 acres. It is made up, mostly, of a boardwalk trail. There are 20 bird feeders and houses along the paths as well as benches for sitting and enjoying the sounds and sights of nature. “The Hill” area has been planted with trees to extend the forest and in May 2020 the east side of the hill had been seeded to become a pollinator prairie.

Monarch Waystation at Sawmill Wetlands Educational Area, Columbus, Ohio

We visited in the fall, just past peak leaf color and definitely past the time to see the pollinator gardens that surround the parking lot! We will definitely need to plan a trip back in the spring or summer to see the Sawmill Wetlands in full bloom!

boardwalk trail at Sawmill Wetlands

My kids were excited to see a bunny hop along the path as soon as we got there. Though we didn’t see any, online I saw people post pictures of deer they have seen in the park!  The wetlands weren’t very “wet” due to our dry summer, I’m guessing. It will be interesting to come back in the spring to see how things change!

bird feeder at Sawmill Wetlands

From the Birding in Ohio website I learned that the Sawmill Wetlands has “a breeding population of smallmouth salamanders and a type of insect (a midge) that has not been recorded anywhere else in Ohio.”

boardwalk trail and bird feeder at Sawmill Wetlands

The entrance and decent sized parking lot is on Sawmill Place Blvd.  When you park in the lot and face the Wetlands, we took the entrance to the left. It will lead immediately to the boardwalk. The entrance on the right begins as a grass trail. 

boy walking the boardwalk trail at Sawmill Wetlands

If you’re looking for a nature break in the middle of shopping or want a smaller, more manageable hike for young kids, definitely check out the Sawmill Wetlands Educational area!

two boys walking on the boardwalk trail at Sawmill Wetlands Educational Area in Columbus, Ohio

 

Know Before You Go:

Address: 2638-2674 Sawmill Place Blvd Columbus, OH 43235 
Parking: parking lot on the premises 
Hours: Dawn to Dusk

columbus ohio with kids

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Indian Run Falls: An Unexpected Find in Dublin, Ohio

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Indian Run Falls in Dublin, Ohio is the perfect spot for a short hike! Follow the trails to the look out for an up-top view of the waterfalls

We’ve spent a lot of time exploring the great outdoors this summer and one of the new places we visited was Indian Run Falls just outside of Historic Dublin, Ohio! The park area is made up of marked trails, observation decks, 2 shelter houses and a pedestrian bridge.

boy on the Indian Run Trail in Dublin, Ohio

Indian Run Falls Trail

There are marked trails within Indian Run Falls Park that make for a short hike that will lead you to a couple of observation decks. If you keep walking beyond the observation areas, the total trail runs for .8 miles and ends at Dublin Veterans Park.

boy looking at the falls from the overlook

Indian Run Trail

Can You Go Creeking at Indian Run Falls?

people in the creek at Indian Run Falls

You can get close to the creek and go down to the water from either side of the pedestrian bridge. There are steps leading down to the water and many people were in the water when we visited.

pedestrian bridge at Indian Run Falls

There are many signs stating that wading or swimming in the water or jumping into the falls is illegal. I asked my Instagram followers to weigh in on whether or not creeking was allowed and I got a variety of answers ranging from “no, you will get ticketed” to “everyone ignores those signs.” 

boy looking at the creek at Indian Run Falls in Dublin

We did hop across the creek on a log and there were many people wading in the water when we visited but I will say it here, for the record: creeking or wading in the creek is illegal and you may get fined.

Lately there have been many people injured after jumping off the falls. As a result, making wading and jumping illegal has been an effort to curb this unfortunate event from happening! You can read more information about that here.

boys climbing across a log over the creek

Waterfalls at Indian Run Falls

Indian Fun Falls from above

We walked the path to the furthest overlook to see the waterfalls from above. There had not had much rain before we visited so the falls and water level were on the small side. 

Indian Run Falls in Dublin Ohio

If you’re looking for a great place to get in touch with nature that’s not too far outside of Columbus, this would make for a peaceful outing! Take a hike, watch the waterfalls and have a picnic in the park at Indian Run Falls Park in Dublin, Ohio! While you’re in Dublin, you can also check out one of these 5 Super Fun Playgrounds in Dublin!

Know Before You Go:

Address: 700 Shawan Falls Dr, Dublin, OH 43017
Parking: a small lot is available at this address.

Dublin Ohio Waterfall

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Ohio Waterfall: Indian Run Falls


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