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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!

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Exploring Glacier Ridge Metro Park


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5 Cool Outdoor Activities for Kids in the Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks

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The Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks offer kids (and adults alike) unique opportunities to get outdoors in Columbus and Central Ohio!

I will continue to repeat that our Metro Parks allow us so many cool opportunities to drive 30 minutes and find ourselves lost in nature. I hardly ever visit a Metro Park without saying “Wow, I did not know this was here!”.

waterfall at Inniswood Metro Gardens

Inniswood Metro Gardens

We have some really great Nature Centers that are GREAT for kids and I’ve written about those on the blog:

There are also a lot of really great programs including programming for preschoolers:

The Metro Parks also have some really amazing playgrounds:

And though, admittedly, one of those playgrounds makes this list, this list is about some of the other outdoor things kids can do within the Columbus Franklin County Metro Parks! These are some of the most unique and fun outdoor activities in Columbus and Central Ohio!

While there are so many other things to do while you are at each of these parks, you can pick one of these activities as your main event and then spend the rest of the time exploring what each park has to offer!

5 Cool Things for Kids to do Outside at the Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks:

1. Rock Climbing at Scioto Audubon Metro Park

climbing wall at Scioto Audubon Metro Park

Scioto Audubon Metro Park

There are three climbing towers that are free to climb in the playground area of Scioto Audubon Metro Park. These reach a height of 35 feet. Climbers have to bring their own harnesses and must be 13 or older. There are a few 10-foot boulders that all kids can climb regardless of their age.

To access the rock climbing towers you can park at the playground area or walk down the path from the Nature Center! There is a great free, indoor play area inside the Nature Center, as well!

water tower at Scioto Audubon Metro Park

Scioto Audubon Metro Park


2. Bird Watching at Blendon Woods Metro Park

bird in the water at Blendon Woods Metro Park

Blendon Woods Metro Park

If you are visiting the Nature Center within Blendon Woods Metro Park, take the Lake Trail to the northeast to reach Thoreau Lake. This lake is in the middle of Walden Waterfowl Refuge and you can enter the shelter to watch for birds and other wildlife in and around the lake!

While you’re at Blendon Woods, check out the great Nature Center that has hands-on activities for kids plus windows for bird watching and the great Natural Play area with a good-sized zip line and opportunities for creeking!

bird watching area at Blendon Woods Metro park

Blendon Woods Metro Park


3. Ninja Course at Glacier Ridge Metro Park

climbing area at Glacier Ridge Metro Park

Glacier Ridge Metro Park

This area is often called the Ninja Course by locals. It features ramps, ropes to climb and a small zipline. Lots of fun opportunities for climbing, swinging and jumping! Nearby is a more traditional playground as well. This play area is on the North side of the park and on the other (south) end of the park you can visit the Honda Wetland Education Area.

ninja course at glacier ridge metro park, columbus, Ohio

Glacier Ridge Metro Park


4. Bison Watching at Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park

bison in the field at Battelle Darby metro Park, Columbus, Ohio

Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park

We love the Nature Center at Battelle Darby Metro Creek, but when you visit, don’t miss taking a walk to look for bison in the park! There are a couple of different pasture areas so you may want to ask at the Nature Center where the bison are currently hanging out. There is a bison observation area about a 1/2 mile walk from the Nature Center.

several bison in the field at Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park

Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park


5. Exploring the Kid-Friendly Gardens at Inniswood Metro Gardens

boy on wooden suspension bridge in Inniswood Metro Gardens, Columbus, Ohio

Inniswood Metro Gardens

Inniswood Metro Gardens is full of beautiful, carefully curated gardens! There are several themed gardens including the Sisters’ Garden, a frog pond and a brick labyrinth to name a few. There is a great tree house surrounded by wooden suspension bridges that kids love off the Sisters’ Garden Loop.

The park also includes a lot of other beautiful gardens to explore. Keep in mind no food or drink is allowed inside this park!

boy in the garden at Inniswood Metro Gardens, Columbus, Ohio

Inniswood Metro Gardens

Read more: 3 of the Most Unique Parks in Columbus Ohio


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Need more ideas? Check out Over 100 Fun Things to do in Columbus, Ohio

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5 Outdoor Activities for Kids in the Columbus Metro Parks


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