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How to Explore Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park with Your Kids

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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

2. Playground

Playground at the Cedar Ridge Area of the park.

There are two playground areas here: one for older kids and one for younger kids. 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.

boy on the playground at the Cedar Ridge Area of Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park

3. Bison Viewing

boy looking at the bison at Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park

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.)

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!

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. 

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

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. Creeking

Railroad Bridge over Big Darby Creek in Galloway, Ohio

There is a great creeking spot for kids 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 in the creek.

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. Canoes and kayaks are also allowed on Osprey Lake.

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


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5 Socially Distant Summer Adventures for Kids in Columbus

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These fun outings in Columbus will get your family safely out of the house and exploring this summer!

This summer has been a summer of major change for most of us and one of the biggest changes is how much time we have been spending at home! We managed to snag one of the coveted blow up pools for our backyard, we have taken a gazillion walks around the neighborhood, and I’ve even bought 3 (!) bird feeders for our yard! 

But while we are trying to make the most of a life lived mainly at home, we have also been on the search for new, outdoor activities this summer in order to keep our cabin fever at bay!

Please remember that masks are currently mandatory indoors in Franklin County and outdoors when you are not able to socially distance. 

5 Fun Outings for Kids for the Summer of 2020:

Here are 5 things we’ve done this summer that pass the test for being outdoors and also able to be socially (or physically) distant from other groups!

1. The Paul Busse Garden Railway at Franklin Park Conservatory

  • 1777 E Broad St, Columbus, OH 43203

model train at the Paul Busse Garden Railway at Franklin Park Conservatory

The Paul Busse Garden Railway will be on display at Franklin Park Conservatory through January 10, 2021. This is an outdoor display that takes up a large portion of the Grand Mallway.

The Garden Railway is made of all-natural plant materials and features 4 botanical themes: Fairytale Land, Wild West Town and an animal themed “Who Lives Here” and a European Travels section! Each theme has its own section of the display and there is a sign listing what each building is and what to look for! It was fun for the kids to find all of the different displays!

Masks are currently required at Franklin Park Conservatory.

boy looking at the model railway at Franklin Park Conservatory

Read more about the railway and see more photos here: The Paul Busse Garden Railway at Franklin Park Conservatory is Now on Display and it is Magical!

2. Suspension Sculptures in Schiller Park

  • 1069 Jaeger St, Columbus, OH 43206

suspended statues at Schiller Park in German Village, Columbus, Ohio

Polish artist Jerzy Kedziora’s floating sculptures will be on display through September in Schiller Park in German Village! This is part of an exhibit of around 30 some sculptures that are hanging all around Columbus including Thurber Park Livingston Park, Main Library and more!

Schiller Park is home to the bulk of these suspended sculptures and my kids had a lot of fun looking for them throughout the park! Our favorite was The Rower over Schiller Pond! 

Balance Statues in Schiller Park

Schiller Park has a great playground and lots of shaded picnic tables! We spent the late morning looking for all the sculptures and then had a picnic in the park!

3. Creeking at Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park

  • 1775 Darby Creek Dr, Galloway, OH 43119

two boys playing in the creek at Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park

Battelle Darby Creek has become our go-to metro park since moving to the west side of Columbus! But we have always entered through the same entrance and done the same hike again and again. Now don’t get me wrong, seeing the bison in the park and visiting the Nature Center are two of the best things you can do in the park, but trying out a new entrance gave us an entirely different experience in the park!

In order to find this creeking spot you can enter through the Indian Ridge Picnic Area or the Canoe Access Area. If you walk the Terrace Trail, you will come across even more creeking opportunities! The Indian Ridge Picnic Area also has a playground and lots of picnic areas.

railroad bridge over Darby Creek

4. Whetstone Prairie

  • 3923 N. High St., Columbus, OH 43214

deer peeking his head out of the grass at Whetstone Prairie in Whetstone Park, Columbus

My husband and I stumbled upon the Whetstone Prairie while visiting the Columbus Park of Roses in June! We were shocked to find that this area existed after years of visiting the park and having no idea! The prairie is in the western part of the park along the Olentangy Trail. (Park in or near the Park of Roses parking lot.)

The prairie area is a peaceful place to walk, look for butterflies and other wildlife! I did not expect to come upon a deer in the middle of Whetstone Park! There are large clear paths for walking and enjoying solace in the middle of the city!

path at Whetstone Prairie in Columbus, Ohio

In addition to The Park of Roses and the Prairie, Whetstone Park is home to a library, rec center, pond and playground!

5. Rope Bridge at Scioto Grove Metro Park

  • 5172 Jackson Pike, Grove City, OH 43123

two boys walking the rope bridge in Scioto Grove Metro Park

Let this be another lesson to us all about the value of exploring new parts of the Metro Parks! Again at Scioto Grove Metro Park, I have been guilty of only driving to one area within the park: the playground (which is more of a large climbing structure)!

There are a lot of good hiking areas around the playground, so don’t discount that if you haven’t done it, but this summer we were on a mission to find the Rope Bridge! We kept driving on past the playground to the Grove Lodge (where we parked) and then headed south on the REI River Trail. The Rope Bridge can be found where the REI River Trail meets the Mingo Trail (and it’s marked on the official Metro Parks map.)

view of the creek from the rope bridge in Scioto Grove Metro Park

The path to the Rope Bridge is very shady which is great, but I will caution you that it can be muddy and there were a lot of mosquitos. 

Exploring Columbus with Your Kids

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