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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2 MORE Great Metro Park Nature Centers for Columbus Kids

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Columbus and Franklin County Metro Park Nature Centers offer great spaces for kids to learn and play!

The Metro Parks in Central Ohio are amazing! And they have opportunities for families year round! One of the things we love to do is visit the Nature Centers. Earlier I shared about Two Great Metro Park Nature Centers for Columbus Kids and this list includes two more! Both of these centers have a huge focus on bird watching, so Spring will be a great time to visit these locations!

Two (MORE) Great Columbus and Franklin County Metro Park Nature Centers for Kids in Columbus:

Blacklick Woods Metro Park

6975 E Livingston Ave, Reynoldsburg OH 43068
Nature Center: 614-861-8759

A reader tipped me off to the Nature Center at Blacklick Woods Metro Park in Reynoldsburg! We had a fun morning there a few weeks ago!

Of course, my kids headed straight for the tee pee upon entering!

Interesting things to touch!

There’s a “tree house,” an area for puppet shows, a kid microscope for viewing insects up close, puzzles, coloring and more!

My kids LOVED the kid-friendly binoculars and spent a lot of time watching birds and squirrels at feeders just outside these large windows! Mayson was obsessed with the “carnivals” (cardinals) and Jaden loved the blue jays (because blue is his favorite color)!

There is an occasional story time at the center, check the upcoming program list here.

Grange Insurance Audubon CenterScioto Audubon Metro Park,

505 W Whittier St. Columbus OH 43215, 614-545-5475

The Grange Insurance Audubon Center within Scioto Audubon Metro Park is an amazing place for kids!

There is a library area where they have story time and this tee pee!

And the views of Columbus are stunning!


Lots of opportunities for touching here, too!

There is a kid’s play area with a “cave” of sorts, puppets and a climbing gym!

Inside the cave:

The climbing gym:

Dress up:

There is a preschool story time on Thursdays and Saturdays at 10:00 AM in the library! Now that the weather is getting warmer, make sure to check out 9 Things to Do with Your Kids at Scioto Audubon for things to do inside AND out!

These are two great Nature Centers for kids to explore! What are your favorite?


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ICYMI: Two Fun Libraries for Columbus Kids

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9 Things to Do with Your Kids at Scioto Audubon

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The Scioto Audubon Metro Park in downtown Columbus offers a lot of fun for kids! There’s rock climbing, a playground, bird watching, story times and much, much more!

The Scioto Audubon is a really awesome Metro Park as far as kids are concerned – you should definitely take your kids there! I had been there a few times for work events in my past life, but I had never explored the park with kids until this past spring! I was missing out!

boy in front of the Nature Center

Here are 9 things you can do there with your kids! (I don’t necessarily recommend doing them all in one day, we did a lot of them and were pretty worn out!) We’ve since been back a few times just to play in the sandbox and have a much more relaxed morning, and that’s just as great, too!

9 Things for Kids to do at the Scioto Audubon Metro Park:

1. Attend a Story Time

library area Scioto Audubon

The Library Inside the Nature Center

boys in a tee pee at the Nature Center

boy reading a book in the Nature Center

We arrived in time for the Pre-K Storytime on a Thursday morning. These story times take place at 10:00 AM on Thursdays and Saturdays in the Grange Insurance Audubon Center.

The library area was full of children’s books and there was a tee pee to play in, as well as scientific equipment to investigate. The story time was laid back and fun for small kids. There was a wide age range of kids there and I felt that the volunteer was very understanding of their varying levels of concentration!

2. Visit with Live Animals

animals in the Nature Center

Animals on Display Inside the Nature Center

frog inside the Nature Center at Scioto Audubon

inside lobby area of the Scioto Audubon

After the story time, a volunteer took us down the hall to visit with frogs, turtles and other water creatures. I wouldn’t have known about this room if it wasn’t for our friendly story time leader!

3. Check Out the Play Room

indoor play area at the Scioto Audubon Metro Park Nature Center

Indoor Play Area for Kids

boy inside the play area inside the Nature Center

inside the kid's play area at scioto audubon nature center

boy check out animal pelts at Scioto Audubon

Animal Pelts and Skeletons to Check out!

I had no idea that there was a play area inside the Center. I would have been coming here during the winter, that’s for sure! There are puppets in a cave-like play area and a climbing structure! There were also really cute animal costumes for dressing up. Inside the same room were animal pelts and skulls the kids could touch.

4. Play in the Sand Box

boys playing in sand box at scioto audubon park

Sandbox Area Outside of the Nature Center

boy playing in sandbox

chalkboard outside scioto audubon nature center

colorful walking path outside the nature center

Update: in the spring of 2020 the sandbox was filled in with rocks. I will keep you posted on if/when that changes!

Just outside the Audubon Center, there is a sand box to play in. My kids could have stayed here all day! There were already sand toys in the area, so we did not have to bring our own. There’s a chalkboard for drawing on and several paths for the kids to walk on in the area.

5. Walk the Boardwalk

view of downtown Columbus from the Scioto Audubon Metro Park

boy on the boardwalk at scioto audubon

Boardwalk from the Nature Center to the Playground and Rock Climbing Area

boy on the boardwalk looking into the water

We took a walk out the back of the Audubon Center, down the path that leads to the rock climbing wall and playground. It’s a good hike, but still doable with small children. We didn’t actually see any animals, but we heard frogs croaking!

This spot was a little scary for me with an almost 2 year old peering over the boardwalk. If you can trust your kids not to dive in, it’s worth doing! I wished I could enjoy it a little more but I was trying not to have a heart attack every time they walked close to the edge. 😉

6. Check out the River Overlook

boys looking at the scioto river

River Viewing Area

The Scioto River

boys walking up the steps to the Nature Center

The park has a river overlook, out over the Scioto River. There are binoculars available for long distance viewing!

7. Play on the Playground

two boys on the playground at Scioto Audubon Metro Park

Playground Area

You can walk down the boardwalk to the playground, or park in the parking lot right next to it. We walked down after already having a full morning playing, so the walk back up was a bit tiring. I might recommend driving down so you can leave from the park.

kids on the Scioto Audubon Metro Park playground

playground and picnic area within the park

Playground and Picnic Area

rock climbing wall at Scioto Audubon Park

Rock Climbing Wall

There is a play area for older and younger kids and a mister for really hot days! There are several picnic tables with umbrellas overhead. For older kids, there is a rock climbing wall and an obstacle course nearby. I love the gorgeous views of downtown from the park!

8. Go Bird Watching

bird feeders in the park

Well, this should be obvious at an audubon center, I guess, but there are a lot of bird watching opportunities. 😉 If you can get your kids to stay still enough (definitely a challenge for me!) the birds will congregate at the feeders around the building.

chairs along the deck of the Nature Center

We saw quite a few from the windows in the library, and we were able to walk by the feeders on the outside decks (which are also on my list of places to come WITHOUT kids)! There are lots of opportunities to learn about birds inside the center, too!

9. Climb the Water Tower

water tower at Scioto Audubon Park

Scioto Audubon Metro Park Water Tower

stairs to the water tower observation deck

Or more accurately, climb two stories of the water tower! 😉 And this is a bonus tip because we didn’t actually do it! If I thought it wasn’t going to mean carrying a toddler up and down the steps, I would have totally done this for the awesome view, but I was pushing the limit as it was! I imagine it would be fun to eat a packed lunch up there!

Know Before You Go:

Scioto Audubon Metro Park, 400 W. Whittier St., Columbus, OH 43215, 614-202-5197
Park Hours:
6:30 AM to 10:00 PM April through September
6:30 AM to 8:00 PM October through March

Grange Insurance Audubon Center, 505 W. Whittier St., Columbus OH 43215, 614-545-5475
Spring/Summer Hours:
Closed Monday
Tuesday – Saturday 10:00 AM – 8:00 PM
Sunday 12:00 PM to 8:00 PM

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9 Things to do with Kids at Scioto Audubon Metro Park


ICYMI: Over 100 Fun Things to do in Columbus, Ohio

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