The Metro Parks are one of the great overlooked resources in our city – and nearly every program is free! With 20+ locations, you’re never far from several Columbus Metro Parks.
You’ll find 75 miles of bike trails, 230 miles of trails, natural play areas, and so much more.
The Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks are open 365 days a year, and are worth a visit during every season. You’ll see different views, wildlife, and more, each time you visit.
There’s plenty to do around the parks all year long! We’re highlighting some of the fun you can have throughout the year.
Follow along on Metro Park Facebook pages (listed below) or the website to see the upcoming programs. There are so many options, including hikes, paddling activities, creeking, arts and crafts, scavenger hunts, yoga, family events, and so much more.
Movies under the Stars at Columbus Metro Parks
Head to a Columbus Metro Parks this summer and fall for movies under the stars! These free movies are open to all ages! Movies start at dark
Friday, June 3 (9 pm) Movie in the Park: Croods: A New Age at Glacier Ridge Metro Park.
Friday, July 15 (9 pm) Movie in the Park: How to Train Your Dragon at Battelle Darby Creek (rain date: July 22)
Friday, August 19 (9 pm) Movie in the Park: Encanto at Sharon Woods Metro Park (rain date: Aug 20)
Saturday, August 27 (9 pm) Movie in the Park: Spiderman: No Way Home at Blendon Woods Metro Park
Friday, September 9 (8 pm) Movie in the Park: Luca at Blacklick Woods Golf Course
Saturday, September 17 (8 pm) Movie in the Park: Top Gun at Highbanks Metro Park
Friday, October 21 (8 pm) Movie in the Park: Ghostbusters at Sharon Woods Metro Park
Look for information on the each park’s Facebook page (listed below) and www.metroparks.net closer to the events.
Youth Metro Parks Explorer Program
Youth ages 17 and younger can become a Metro Parks Explorer! All they need to do is to ask a naturalist for a check-in card and attend five Metro Parks programs in a year.
Once they attend 5 programs, they’ll receive a hand-crafted patch as a memento of their commitment to the parks. The Explorer program features a new patch with a different animal every year.
Fall Fun at Columbus Metro Parks
Autumn Columbus Metro Park Hikes
Fall is finally here (even if the fall temps aren’t), and there are some excellent fall hikes coming up at the Columbus Metro Parks. Fall is a great time to visit the parks and watch the leaves changing and you’ll be likely to see more wildlife now that it isn’t as hot outside.
The Metro Parks are one of the great overlooked resources in our city – and nearly every program is free!
All Season Columbus Metro Parks Fun
Hiking at Metro Parks in Columbus
With over 230 miles of trails to hike, it’ll take you awhile to explore all of the options! Pick a park near you, or head to another part of town to explore. See our recommendations for hikes around Columbus here: Nature walks and scenic hiking trails in Columbus.
Geocaching at Metro Parks
Go geocaching year round at the Columbus Metro Parks! Find out how, when, and where at the Metro Parks website. It’s a great family activity!
Scavenger Hunts at Metro Parks
Find some fun scavenger hunts for 11 Metro Parks. Print one off and head to the park to explore! Some are seasonal, so make sure you choose one that fits the season so that you can find all of the clues!
There are disc golf courses available at a few of the Metro Parks. If you’ve never played disc golf, it’s an easy sport to get started with! You can buy the equipment you’ll need for around $20 (or less if you find used discs!), and play at places all over Columbus for free.
This sport is accessible to all ages and abilities – if you can throw a disc, you can learn to play! Find out more about disc golf and courses where you can play: Get started with Disc Golf in Columbus at these great courses
Glacier Ridge Dog Park, 9801 Hyland Croy, Plain City OH
The 2.5-acre dog park features an open field, drinking fountains, paved path and a wooded area for dogs to explore and is open to dogs of all size
Rocky Fork Metro Park Dog Park, 7180 Walnut St, New Albany
Splash pad for dogs. Large and small dog area, both fenced. Small off leash trail right by the dog park. Poop bags and trash cans
Scioto Audubon Dog Park, 400 W. Whittier Street Columbus, OH 43215
2.5 acres, with separate areas for large and small dogs and an agility course and digging sand pit. Dog waste bags are available.
Walnut Woods Dog Park, 6716 Lithopolis Road Groveport, OH 43125
Buckeye Area features a 3-acre dog park for large dogs (20 pounds and over) with a fenced doggie swimming area, drinking water, plus a 1-acre dog park for small dogs.
Prairie Oaks Darby Bend Lakes, 2755 Amity Road, Hilliard, OH
Doggie beach with dog swimming.
Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks on Facebook
Looking for more metro park fun? Check out the Facebook pages for more fall fun and upcoming events.
Battelle Darby Creek Facebook page
Blacklick Woods Facebook page
Blendon Woods Facebook page
Clear Creek Facebook page
Glacier Ridge Facebook page
Highbanks Facebook page
Homestead Facebook page
Inniswood Facebook page
Sharon Woods Facebook page
Three Creeks Facebook page
Outdoor Adventure Facebook page
Contact info for Columbus Metro Parks
Past events (to hopefully return with the season)
Fall Fest at Slate Run Metro Park: Saturday, October 16 from 11 am – 3 pm. Enjoy free fall-themed fun, including hayrides, a corn maze, archery, activities from Slate Run’s Living Historical Farm, animals from Ohio Wildlife Center, games and crafts!
Werewolf Hike Scioto Grove Metro Park: Friday, October 22 at 5 pm. Bring your dog out for this 2 mile long Halloween hike! Pets and owners are encouraged to wear their best costume! Pups in costume will win a goodie bag of trick-o-treats. Meet at Arrowhead picnic shelter.
Ghosts, Goblins, and Gills at Scioto Grove Metro Park. Saturday, October 23 from 1-3 pm. Dress up in your best Halloween costume and come to Scioto Grove Metro Park, Hickory pond, for a special trick-or-treat fishing experience!! All equipment and bait is provided. Pre-registration is encouraged for a guaranteed spot, walkups can be accommodated when possible. Register at metroparks.net.
Archery Spooktacular at Scioto Grove Metro Park. Saturday, October 23 and Friday, October 29 from 4 pm – 7 pm. Take aim at fun Halloween themed targets, some fun and some spooky. Halloween costumes are encouraged (archery safe please). Compound bows available for ages 8+ to shoot at the static archery range. Equipment and instruction provided. S’mores by the fire will be available to enjoy.
No registration required. Come to the Scioto Grove Metro Park anytime between 4pm-7pm.
Paint A Pumpkin at Blacklick Woods Metro Golf Course: Sunday, October 24 from 10am-2pm. Family-friendly activity of painting pumpkins from Metro Parks own Slate Run Historical Farm. Painting will take place outside (weather permitting, or inside the snack bar if the weather is questionable). You can take them home or leave them here for us to display around the Pro Shop. Pumpkins are available on a first-come first-serve basis. All ages welcome.
Tree Cookie Painting at Blacklick Woods: Sunday, October 24 from 1 pm – 3 pm. Meet us outside the nature center to paint a picture on the cross section of a tree branch. Materials provided.
Blacklick Woods Metro Park Trick or Treat Trail: Tuesday, October 26 from 5 pm – 7 pm. Families will take a half-mile walk along the Buttonbush Trail and learn about tricks while collecting treats! Trick-or-treaters and their families are encouraged to wear costumes. Ohio Wildlife Center, Friends of Metro Parks, and Metro Parks Outdoor Adventure will also be providing activities for families. Meet in the Nature Center Parking lot. Advanced Registration is Required. Sign up here: tinyurl.com/82zck5tr
Costume Climb at Scioto Audubon Metro Park: Wednesday, October 27 from 4-7 pm. Celebrate the Halloween season by learning to climb on the outdoor climbing wall (it’s more fun than scary!). Equipment and instruction provided. Halloween costumes are encouraged (climbing safe please). Open to all ages, tennis shoes are the recommended footwear for beginners.
Pre-registration on metroparks.net is encouraged for a guaranteed spot, walkups can be accommodated when possible.
Highbanks Trick or Treat Trail: Friday, October 29 from 5:30 – 7:30 pm
Wear your favorite costume and walk our festively lit trail. Solve animal riddles along the way to earn some treats. Don’t forget to bring a bag to hold your goodies!
Hooray for Halloween at Sharon Woods: Saturday, October 30 from 10am-2pm. Come dressed in your Halloween best to wander along the self-guided Halloween Activity Trail. Find games, crafts and a few fun surprises as you walk along a .5 mile trail through the woods. Don’t forget to pick up your Halloween goodie bag when you’re done to end your visit with a sweet treat that’ll make you say “Hooray for Halloween”. Meet at Schrock Lake Restrooms
Inniswood Halloween Party: Sunday, October 31 from 1-4 pm Head to the Gardens for activities and crafts to celebrate this traditional holiday.
Halloween Painting at Blacklick Woods: Sunday, October 31 at 4 pm. Follow along and make a spooky painting for Halloween. Instruction and materials provided.
Lantern Hike at Blacklick Woods
December 4 from 6-7 pm. Take a 1.5-mile lantern-lit hike. All ages.
December 18 from 6-7 pm
Late Night in the Winter Forest at Blendon Woods
December 11 at 7 pm. Enjoy the Winter Wonderland Forest after dark on this one special evening. Lantern lit trail, hot cocoa.
Audubon Christmas Bird Count at Sharon Woods
December 18 at 10 am. Join the longest running citizen science project and help search for birds for the 122nd annual National Audubon Society’s Christmas Bird Count. No experience necessary. Bring your own binoculars or borrow a pair of ours if you’d like. Meet at the Schrock Lake Restrooms.
Christmas Bird Count at Inniswood Metro Park
December 18 at 8 am Join us as we walk 2+ miles of trails counting all the birds as part of the nation’s longest running community science bird project. Binoculars provided or bring your own.
Annual Christmas Bird Count Blendon Woods
December 18 at 8 am . Participate in citizen science! No experience necessary. Help count birds for the 122nd Audubon Christmas bird count. Stay as long (or short) as you like!
Holiday Crafts at Blacklick Woods
December 18 from 10 am-2pm. Stop by the Nature Center and make a few holiday-themed crafts.
Winter Fun at Blendon Woods
December 20 from 9 am – 1 pm. Drop by for activities, crafts, hot cocoa around the campfire, and new outdoor AND indoor Story Trails!
Holiday-themed Scavenger Hunt at Blacklick Woods
December 20 from 10 am – 2 pm. Stop by the Nature Center and pick up a fun, holiday-themed scavenger hunt to explore the trails.
Family Lanterns at Inniswood Metro Park
December 20 from 4-5 pm. In anticipation of the year’s shortest day, make a lantern and then walk the Gardens with it as night falls
Winter Solstice Stroll at Sharon Woods
December 21 from 5-6 pm from Enjoy the longest night of the year, as we hike over the creek and through the woods on this 1.5 mile winter solstice stroll. Meet at the Apple Ridge Bulletin Board.
Winter Wonderland Forest Adventure at Blendon Woods
November 27-January 2: Discover the magic of the season as you immerse yourself in a special winter themed exhibit at the Nature Center! Open Daily 9am-6pm.
For Kids: New Year’s Eve I-Spy at Sharon Woods
December 31 from 12 pm – 4 pm. We’re counting down to the end of 2021, but our clocks have gone missing! Search the picnic area to find our missing clocks and earn a prize to help ring in the New Year. Meet at the Natural Play Area.
Last Hike of the Year! at Blendon Ravines
December 31 at 3:30 pm. Meet at Blendon Ravines, 5280 Cambria Way, for an off-trail hike up and down the ravines. Prepare for mud. Park along the street
New Years Hike For Adults at Sharon Woods: Rugged Ravine Ramble
January 1 at 9 am. Join the naturalist for a rugged 2.5-mile hike off-trail in the park. We’ll cross ravines and small streams, and explore a state nature preserve all while learning about the history of the park. Ages 18+.
Please bring water and dress for the weather. Boots and jeans or other sturdy long pants (nothing that can snag easily.)
Christmas Bird Count at Battelle Darby Creek Little Darby Picnic Area
January 1 at 9 am – 12 pm. Calling all birders of every level! Come participate in the nation’s longest-running community science bird project. We will take a 2.5-mile walk to identify all of the birds we see and hear.
First Day Hike at Clear Creek Creekside Meadows
January 1 at 10 am. Start the New Year off with a 4-mile hike along one of the park’s most rugged trails. The Hemlock Trail is steep and uneven in areas, wear sturdy hiking shoes and bring water. Meet at the Creekside Meadows Parking Lot, 23833 Clear Creek Road in Rockbridge.
New Year’s Bird Hike at Blacklick Woods
January 1 at 10 am. Join us on a 1.5-mile hike through the forest as we search for wintering birds.
New Year’s Hike at Blendon Woods: Programs for Adults 50+
January 1 at 1 pm. Bring in the New Year as we hike 1.5-miles on easy to moderate trails through the woods and over Ripple Rock Creek. Meet at the Nature Center.
Late Winter/Early Spring Fun at Columbus Metro Parks
There’s so much on the schedule for Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks this spring! Check out the full calendar, along with some featured events below.
Valentine Bench at Three Creeks Confluence Area (3860 Bixby Road, Groveport) Stop by the picnic shelter’s Valentine bench through the end of February.
Skunk Cabbage Hikes
There are guided Skunk Cabbage Hikes in February and March. Hike off-trail to see Ohio’s earliest wildflower.
February 27: Adults 50+: Skunk Cabbage Hike at 10 am; Blendon Woods
February 27: For Families: Skunk Cabbage Hike at 2 pm; Blendon Woods
March 5: Skunk Cabbage Hike at 10 am; Clear Creek
Interested in birds? The Metro Parks has lots of guided bird hikes coming up, in search of owls, raptors, bald eagles, waterfowl, and more. See the birding options here!
February 23: Woof Walk at Blacklick Woods; 1 pm
February 26: Happy Tails-n-Trails at Sharon Woods; 10 am
February 27: For Families: Winter Hike with Your Dog at Highbanks; 1 pm
Feb 23: Preschoolers: Nature Detectives at 9:30 and 11 at Sharon Woods
Feb 25, Mar 25: Last Friday Story Time 10am at Blendon Woods
Feb 25: Preschoolers: Birds 10 am and 1 pm at Battelle Darby Creek
Mar 8: Preschool: Ask Me if I’m a Frog 10 am at Blendon Woods
Feb 27: Bison in Winter at Battelle Darby Creek at 1 pm. What do we do with the bison in the winter? Come for a 2-mile hike to see the bison in their winter pasture and learn about their adaptations for cold weather.
Feb 26 at 12 pm. A strong wind came through Scioto Grove Metro Park and scattered all of our favorite recreation equipment around the park!! Find all of our missing gear hiding around the Arrowhead Picnic area and win a prize! Meet at Arrowhead picnic shelter to get your activity sheet and instruction.
Art in the Park
Feb 25 at 3pm at Homestead Metro Park. Come to the Nature Center for a fun arts and crafts activity! Ages 5 and up
Find these programs and more on the Program Search.
For the 2021/2022 series, you can pick when you want to hike. Simply visit the parks and hike on some of the featured trails for the month on your own schedule, pace, and distance. After hikes at 7 parks, you’ll get a reward!
Pick up your Winter Hikes card at a featured park beginning December 1 or download the travel guide from the website. After the hike, ask a staff member to stamp the travel ticket. After the season is over, you can claim your winter hike patch at the Winter Hikes Celebration.
December: Twinkling Lights
Walk under the twinkling lights at Battelle Darby Creek, Blacklick Woods, Highbanks, Homestead and Inniswood during the month of December. Enjoy hot chocolate every Sunday from 5-7pm at these parks. Consider dropping off canned food donations for Mid-Ohio Foodbank as well.
December 17-18: Chestnut Ridge Lantern Walk with hot chocolate.
January: New Year, New Traditions
Gather your friends and family for a hike on any trail at Blendon Woods, Sharon Woods, Scioto Audubon, Clear Creek, Prairie Oaks and Three Creeks. Enjoy refreshments at parks during the times listed.
Saturday, January 8, 10am-2pm Blendon Woods
Sunday, January 9, 10am- 2pm Sharon Woods
Saturday, January 15, 10am-2pm Scioto Audubon
Saturday, January 22, 10am-2pm Clear Creek
Sunday, January 23, 10am-2pm Prairie Oaks
Saturday, January 29, 10am-2pm Three Creeks
February: Warm Your Heart
Each Saturday from 10am-noon stop by a campfire at Glacier Ridge, Pickerington Ponds, Rocky Fork, Scioto Grove, Slate Run and Walnut Woods and warm up before or after your hike. As you hike the trails, search for Metro Parks wooden ornaments to take home as our gift to our visitors.
Sunday, February 27, 11am-3pm at Blacklick Woods Golf Course
Hike along the paths of our Audubon Sanctuary Golf Course, collect your Winter Hike patch or Friends of Metro Parks hiking stick and medallion, enjoy hot chocolate, warm up by the fire and borrow skates to glide around the ice rink!
While you’re there, get some hiking done or the Winter Hike Series!
Sledding at the Metro Parks in Columbus
Grab your sled and head to these metro parks when the snow falls! Sled at your own risk, watch out for obstacles, obey any posted signs for (or against) sledding or parking, and stay warm!
Battelle Darby Creek Sledding Hill: 8465 Alkire Road, Galloway OH 43119
Ice Skating Pond: 3711 Gardner Road, Georgesville OH 43123
Steep hill with lots of parking and restrooms. Often a fire can for quick warm-ups. Not a good hill for littles.
Blacklick Woods – 6975 E. Livingston Ave., Reynoldsburg, OH 43068
Moderate hill on the golf course with close parking and restrooms.
Highbanks – 9466 US Rt 23 N, Lewis Center, OH 43035
Two hills (one gentle, one steep) at the far end of the driving loop at the Big Meadows parking lot. Parking is very limited, and legal parking is strictly enforced.
Scioto Audubon – 400 West Whittier Street, Columbus, OH 43215
Sledding hill located near the obstacle course and bocce court.
Scioto Grove Metro Park – 5172 Jackson Pike, Grove City, OH 43123
Sledding Hill: A sledding hill is available for winter fun near to Backpacking Site #2.
Sharon Woods – 6911 Cleveland Avenue, Westerville, OH 43081
Long run for sledders and snowboarders; not steep. Small bunny hill for little kids. Restrooms and good parking available.
Walnut Woods – 6716 Lithopolis Rd, Groveport, OH 43125
Sledding Hill: A low hill in the Buckeye Area provides just the right slope for young kids to enjoy sledding.
Blendon Woods – 4265 East Dublin Granville Road, Columbus, OH 43017
Skating Pond: Winter outdoor enthusiasts will enjoy this one-foot deep pond.
Kiddie’s sledding hill: A low hill provides just the right height and speed for young kids.
There’s a small hill near the entrance that’s a great family sledding spot for those with smaller children. Take a right at the Y from the entrance to reach it. Parking and restrooms available.
Ice Skating at Columbus Metro Parks
Ice skating is permitted at two parks when conditions are suitable. Follow any posted signs, and never skate when “no skating” signs are posted.
Blendon Woods, 4265 East Dublin Granville Road, Columbus, OH 43017.
Skating Pond: Winter outdoor enthusiasts will enjoy this one-foot deep, 0.4 acre pond
Battelle Darby Creek, 3711 Gardner Road, Georgesville OH 43123.
1/2 acre, 16 inch deep pond.
See a list of other places to ice skate.
Cross-country skiing is available on all trails when ski conditions exist. Some trails are closed to all activities except cross-country skiing when conditions are suitable at Battelle Darby Creek, Blendon Woods, Glacier Ridge, Highbanks, and Prairie Oaks.
Summer at the Metro Parks
10TV and Metro Parks Outdoor Adventure
Saturday, June 25, 2022 from 10am-4pm at Highbanks. Free, fun-filled adventure for the whole family at the Big Meadows Picnic Area at Highbanks Metro Park. Splash in the creek, jump in inflatables, play fun outdoor games, visit with animals, plus more outdoor activities.
Don’t forget to stop by and meet the 10TV news team. Food trucks and refreshments available on site! Details here.
Paddle with the Pros this Summer with Metro Parks Outdoor Adventure
New for 2022, tandem kayaks available for summer Outdoor Adventure paddling programs!
Tandem kayaks are great options for families and friends to paddle together, as their longer and wider size can help you feel more stable on the water. They’re so easy to use, that a passenger won’t necessarily need to paddle, as long as they’re sitting up front and the paddler is in the back.
Experienced Outdoor Adventure team members will show you paddling basics to ensure you have a fun time in nature while out on the lake or river, and equipment and instruction are provided during these fun and free programs.
See upcoming options on Facebook.
Paddle Fest at Prairie Oaks Metro Park
Saturday, July 30, 2022 from 1 – 7 pm. Enjoy the lakes from a canoe, kayak, or stand up paddleboard! Equipment and instruction are provided, come out anytime for a fun adventure. Canoes are open to all ages, a minimum of one adult per canoe. Solo, sit-in kayaks and SUPs are open to ages 10+. Life jackets are provided and worn while paddling, visitors are welcome to bring their own Type III life jacket. Details here.
Darby Bend Lakes portion of Prairie Oaks Metro Park, 2755 Amity Rd, Hilliard, OH 43026
Battelle Darby Creek