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!
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
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.
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!
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
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!
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!
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
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!
If you’re looking for more ideas, Blendon Woods has a great Natural Play Area!
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!
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
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.
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!
2. Observation Tower
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:
This one in November 2020:
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:
And this one in November 2020:
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!
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