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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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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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3 of the Most Unique Parks in Columbus Ohio

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These three unique parks in Columbus, Ohio provide beautiful scenery for your next walk in the park!

This post may include affiliate links. See my disclosure.

Columbus has so many parks to explore! Parks are great options for families because they allow space for little kids to run around and they don’t cost a dime to explore!

While Columbus is full of playgrounds and parks, these three parks are particularly unique. They offer not just paths for walking, but some of the most beautiful and interesting scenery along the way. These three parks are one of a kind and are three of the must see parks in Central Ohio!

Three of the Most Unique Parks in Columbus:

1. Topiary Park

  • 480 E Town St, Columbus, OH 43215
Topiary Park, columbus Ohio

Topiary Park

Topiary Park in downtown Columbus is truly one of the most unique parks in Columbus, if not Ohio and beyond! It is the only known park of its kind – plants depicting art! Obviously, the best time to visit this park is in the spring and summer when it is in full bloom. 

Plant Sculptures in Topiary Park, Columbus Ohio

Topiary Park

This public park features a recreation of Georges Seurat’s painting, A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of LaGrande Jatte. With larger than life size plant sculptures (created with yew trees), it’s a sight to behold! The garden consists of 54 people, boat sculptures and animal sculptures. (By sculptures, I mean created out of trees!).

(Surprise your kids by reading them this picture book featuring the scene before or after you go!)

plant sculptures in Topiary Park, Columbus Ohio

Topiary Park

You can enter the park through the you can visit the park through the Main Library or through the gatehouse on Washington Ave.

2. Inniswood Metro Gardens

  • 940 S Hempstead Rd, Westerville, OH 43081 
waterfall in Inniswood Metro Gardens

Inniswood Metro Gardens

Inniswood Metro Gardens is arguably the most curated of the Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks! The 123 acre park is filled with gardens and hidden gems.

treehouse and bridge in Inniswood Metro Gardens

Treehouse in Inniswood Metro Gardens

There is an herb garden, a rose garden, water features and more. The Sister’s Garden is specifically geared toward children with a small house to play in and a water pump to splash in. The trails are beautiful to walk! This park is in bloom in the spring and summer and the foliage is spectacular in the fall as well! 

Don’t miss the tree house with its suspension bridges and wooden walking paths! It’s one of the best places for kids to play in the park! (Please note, no food or drink is allowed inside the park but there are picnic tables just outside if you’ve brought a packed lunch!)

walking path and steps in Inniswood Metro Gardens

Walking path in Inniswood Metro Gardens

labyrinth path in Inniswood Metro Garden

Labyrinth path in Inniswood Metro Garden

3. Park of Roses

  • 3901 N High St, Columbus, OH 43214 
Roses in the Park of Roses, Columbus, Ohio

Park of Roses

The Park of Roses was opened one 1963 and covers 13 acres in the Clintonville neighborhood featuring over 12,000 rose species. 

walking path in the Park of Roses

Walking Path in the Park of Roses

There are several distinct rose gardens, plus additional gardens displaying perennials, trees and herbs. . The park is in peak bloom June through September and admission is free.

red roses and fountain in the park of roses in columbus, Ohio.There is a structure you can climb to view the gardens from on high – lots of fun for kids! And the park makes for a beautiful place to take a walk on a warm summer night!

I hope you get the chance to enjoy these unique parks in our beautiful city! I have enjoyed spending time in these parks with my family and they also provide educational experiences for our kids! What are some of your favorite parks in Columbus?

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