Five Reasons Scioto Audubon is a 5-Star Park

ANNA PELINO, guest blogger Lying on the eastern banks of the Scioto River, Scioto Audubon Metro Park has something for everyone in its 120 acres. Here are my five reasons why Scioto Audubon gets a 5-star rating and why you should visit this top attraction soon. 1. Challenge yourself on the obstacle course Featuring ten obstacles and a half-mile track, the Columbus Rotary Obstacle …Read More

Behold the flowers of fall

Autumn takes your breath away with its fabulous canvas of changing colors, but it also takes the blooms away. Those wonderful flowers that delight the eye throughout summer fade away quickly as the season changes. Don’t despair, flower lovers. There are still many beautiful blooms and blossoms to “ooh and ahh” over as summer gives way to fall. 1. SUNFLOWERS Cold nights mask the …Read More

Feathered friends flock through the parks

KATIE BENNETT, Clear Creek Naturalist Fall in Ohio welcomes cooler temperatures, a painted landscape and significant activity among our avian friends. The changing weather, a safe place to rest and abundant food attracts a variety of birds to our Metro Parks during September, October and November. Whether you’re looking to add another bird to your lifetime list or just out to enjoy nature, fall …Read More

Snap it in the parks Shutterbugs!

As the leaves turn colors, your Metro Parks transform into beautiful landscapes of reds, oranges and yellows and become the perfect backdrop for photographs. Check out the lakes, creeks, meadows and prairies for great photo ops. Bring your camera to any Metro Park and start snapping away with gusto. Battelle Darby Creek Big Darby and Little Darby creeks flow through the largest Metro Park, …Read More

Cool off with a walk in the woods

Highbanks Metro Park The Overlook Trail in Highbanks Metro Park is an easy extension from the Dripping Rock Trail and a great place to escape on a hot day. The 2.3-mile trail meanders through the forest and passes along small streams and creeks. It’s perfect for hikers looking for a little challenge. You’ll come to a small fenced in area with gravestones that belong …Read More

Get your adrenaline pumping at Scioto Grove

LISA WILLIAMS, Guest Blogger Each of the Metro Parks has its own collection of things to do in the great outdoors. Some are great play places for kids and adults. Some are ideal for hosting outdoor events, like parties or reunions. Some are amazing places to enjoy wildlife, waterways, rivers and streams, wetlands, prairies and woodlands in their most natural states. However, if you …Read More

Birds of a feather flock together at Metro Parks

CARRIE MORROW, Assistant Resource Manager Central Ohio birders know that Metro Parks are fantastic for birding adventures. Visitors may be looking to add to their life list or just love to watch birds interact with one another. Metro Parks uses annual surveys to check breeding populations of birds and this year’s survey shows what a healthy habitat the parks provide for our feathered friends. …Read More

Laid back places and spaces for you to enjoy in your Metro Parks

Serenity in the Secret Garden Inniswood Metro Gardens has so much to offer to spark the imaginations of children and adults. As you walk its pathways you’ll enjoy the inner peace and tranquility that the gardens inspire. A favorite restful retreat at Inniswood is the Secret Garden. Located within the Sisters’ Garden this is the ideal place to read, relax or just rejuvenate. Once …Read More

Flap your wings at these butterfly and insect havens

Butterfly Garden at Scioto Audubon Metro Park Quarter-acre butterfly garden off Maier Place Swallowtails, monarchs, skippers, cabbage whites, bumble bees and honeybees Garden and adjacent prairie filled with milkweed, butterfly weed, red clover, cup flower, purple asters   Monarch Mansion at Blendon Woods The royal residence for local monarchs, outside nature center Monarchs lay eggs on milkweed in mansion See the process through caterpillar, …Read More

Stolen Kayak Recovery

Last month, while on foot patrol at Scioto Audubon Metro Park, a seasonal ranger Jake found two kayaks stashed along the bank of the Scioto River.  A quick check of the area revealed no kayakers around. The boats were in excellent shape, with the paddles, and too far out of the water to be washed ashore out of some sort of accident.  Believing the …Read More

#YourMetroParksTrails – win a $500 REI gift card

We all have our favorite trails – the ones that wind through prairies, wetlands and forests or the ones that provide a front row seat to wildlife scurrying across the paths – and we want to hear which ones are yours!  Submit a 60-second video about your favorite Metro Parks trail to by August 6 for a chance to win a $500 REI gift card. Get creative, get quirky …Read More

Happy Trails to You!

Blendon Woods Naturalist Stephanie West gives a shout out for the 2.5-mile Overlook, Brookside and Ripple Rock trails. These shaded looped trails descend three times into a stream bed and at a fast pace it should take you 35 to 45 minutes to traverse. Stephanie suggests that you slow down and take in the sights and sounds along the way. Listen for the sharp …Read More

Float on through the parks

BRANDON NOVOTNY, Prairie Oaks Ranger Canoeing and kayaking are two of the best ways to see your Metro Parks. From magnificent wildlife, to breathtaking sunsets and scenic views, a float down the river won’t disappoint. Wildlife You’re bound to see ospreys and bald eagles flying the river corridor at Battelle Darby Creek, Prairie Oaks, Scioto Audubon, Scioto Grove and Three Creeks. Paddle Big Darby …Read More

A Multitude of Magnificent Mimics

Annette Boose, Otterbein University and Andrew Boose, Metro Parks Aquatic Ecologist Over millions of years animals have evolved to blend into their surroundings. This is called camouflage and it helps them to avoid detection and predation. Maybe you have had the opportunity to see this first hand in one of your Metro Parks. A great horned owl or a frog in their natural habitat …Read More

Central Ohio Blueways

Wondering where you can kayak, canoe, and paddle board in Central Ohio? Now you can find that information all in one place. Check out the Central Ohio Blueways webpage for an interactive map, plus info on water safety, boat registration and protecting our waterways.   CENTRAL OHIO BLUEWAYS

When you hear hooves think Percheron horses not zebras

David Trotter, Farm Interpretive Aide Horses play an integral role in the activities at Slate Run Living Historical Farm, performing many of the same tasks tractors do on modern farms. Just as tractors are occasionally replaced due to age or wear, so are our horses. We recently purchased Bob, a 6-year-old Percheron gelding, to replace one of our aging horses. Bob was raised on …Read More

Discover Your Metro Parks

Explore the parks, collect stamps and earn prizes with the Metro Parks Passport Program! Visitors can pick up their free Passport to Metro Parks booklet at Metro Parks Headquarters, 1069 W. Main St, Westerville OH 43081 or at the nature centers at Battelle Darby Creek, Blacklick Woods, Blendon Woods or Highbanks. We challenge you to visit all 19 Metro Parks using your passport as …Read More

Winging their way to a forest near you…

BRUCE SIMPSON, Blendon Woods Naturalist Spring is my favorite time for bird watching. As the lakes and river thaw, many waterfowl fly north and some of the seed-eating birds migrate northward to their breeding territory. May is a great time to see warblers in your Metro Parks. Some of these neotropical songbirds are just passing through, while others stay here and breed. This month, …Read More

Getting down and dirty in the garden

MEGAN FLEISCHER, Inniswood Horticulturist Take advantage of energy you’ve stored after a long winter with these simple gardening tasks. By the time summer hits, you’ll be happy you completed these in the cooler temperatures of spring. 1. Edge your garden beds Now is the time to put a crisp edge on your garden beds. Use a spade or gas-powered edger to keep unwanted weeds and turf from …Read More

Catch ’em if you can

BRADNON NOVOTNY, Park Ranger Prairie Oaks Spring has arrived in Central Ohio and fishing is starting to heat up. Your Metro Parks offer fishing at many of our parks, and while you’ll find great fishing at each location, here are my top five spots you should definitely check out this year. Prairie Oaks Metro Park: Darby Bend Lakes This popular fishing spot is stocked …Read More

April showers bring May flowers…

Scott Felker, Three Creeks Naturalist After what seems like the winter that lasted for forever, spring is finally here and so are the wildflowers. That means it’s time to search for blooms in your Metro Parks. True to their name, Virginia bluebells, trilliums and many other spring flowering ephemerals are plants that last only a brief time. They grow before trees leaf out, flower …Read More

Tip of the Campaign Hat – Announcements

Our duties have  kept us busy and kept us away from the Ranger Blog too long.  It is time to catch up on some of the achievements and promotions within the ranger ranks. Congratulations to Rangers Bethanie Bidinger, Catherine Draves and Katie Copp, as well as Assistant Manager Ryan Mader, for completing the Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy and being sworn in as Park …Read More

Rangers Use New Rescue Boat

Last September, Metro Parks purchased a rescue boat for operations at Scioto Audubon Metro Park.  While we have Metro Parks along many waterways in Central Ohio, Scioto Audubon is the only Metro Park with a public boat ramp.  In addition, the maintenance facility is located across the street from the boat ramp, allowing for quick access to the stored boat during emergency situations.  This past Tuesday, April …Read More

Bird photography a passion

Bird photography is a passion for Adam Brandemihl, who started coming to the parks five years ago to exercise and get a bit of fresh air. On his visits, Adam got caught up with watching wildlife—especially birds. After bringing his camera on one of his hikes, Adam realized he’d found a new passion. Every trip to a Metro Park was like a treasure hunt …Read More

Turkeys at Blendon Woods now common, but it wasn’t always this way

BRUCE SIMPSON, Blendon Woods Naturalist Turkeys are now common at Blendon Woods, but it wasn’t always that way. One morning around 15 years ago, as I walked along the Brookside Trail at Blendon Woods listening to songbirds, I heard a surprising sound—the call of the wild turkey, “Gobble gobble gobble.” In all my years of bird watching at Blendon Woods, this was the first …Read More

Coming Soon To A Vernal Pool Near You

ANDREA KRAVA, Blendon Woods/Rocky Fork Senior Naturalist We’ve definitely had our fair share of snow and single-digit temperatures this winter. By late February to mid-March we’ll start having warmer days (by warm, I mean in the 50s) and rain instead of snow. This change in temperature and weather not only starts to lift our spirits, but also thaws the frozen ground, brings water into vernal …Read More

Harbingers of spring

CODY BERKEBILE, Blacklick Woods Naturalist Harbingers of spring can be slow in coming for most of us. Toward the end of a cold and snowy winter, many of us are asking ourselves, “Where is spring?” Spring is my favorite season in Ohio. The days are longer, the temperatures increase, flowers begin to grow and migratory birds return. After being stuck inside more than I …Read More

New Year’s resolution leads to new love of Metro Parks and a visit to them all

MEGAN EAGAN, Guest Blogger As residents of Gahanna, my husband, Michael, and I had always frequented Metro Parks closest to home: Blendon Woods, Inniswood and Sharon Woods. It was on a walk at Blendon Woods on Christmas Day 2016 when we realized how many Metro Parks we hadn’t seen and decided to try and visit them all. Our 2017 New Year’s resolution was born. …Read More

Migrating birds turn frozen parks into a winter oasis

DUSTIN DAVIS, Greenways Ranger While the recent frigid weather has probably kept most of us indoors, waterfowl travel from afar to reach Ohio. Every winter, our waterways become an oasis of sorts for migrating waterfowl looking for a rest stop or temporary vacation home. Many of the lakes, rivers and wetlands in Metro Parks become refuges for these seasonal travelers. With the leaves gone, …Read More

Beaver tales

JILL SNYDER, Highbanks Naturalist Most of us are familiar with cartoon images of a beaver building a dam. Beavers are often portrayed with big buckteeth, cutting down trees, piling up wood and spreading mud on top with their broad tail. This image isn’t exactly an accurate depiction of a beaver’s life. Beavers are more than just animals with flat tails that gnaw at trees. Their …Read More

Daytime Owls

JEN ROSA, Naturalist Prairie Oaks It’s commonly believed that owls are nocturnal, but barred owls and short-eared owls prove to be exceptions. They tend to be active during the day, and if you know where to go and what to look for, you might just get a good view of them. Short-eared owls migrate to Ohio in winter and are often seen at Prairie …Read More

The fruit that looks like a monkey brain

ANDREA KRAVA, Naturalist Blendon Woods Osage orange trees aren’t native to Ohio, but they arrived here in large numbers in the 1800s, mostly brought by settlers. They grow thick trunks with thorny branches, perfect for forming a natural fence around early farms and properties. My husband knows the thorns well, as they poke and scratch at him while mowing the lawn at our 1.5-acre …Read More

You can’t miss the vibrant red wahoo

ALLISON SHAW, Naturalist Sharon Woods The eastern wahoo, an often-overlooked tree, is a beautiful find in autumn. It grows up to 20-feet-high and you will notice its bright red fruit immediately. They resemble bittersweet fruits and have four parts with an outer pink covering. The fruits are poisonous to humans but serve as a late-fall food source for wildlife. Native Americans and pioneers used …Read More

My Favorite Places: Andy Miller

ANDY T MILLER, Assistant Manager Pickerington Ponds/Chestnut Ridge While I don’t have a favorite spot in the parks for fall colors, there are several parks that I like year round. I enjoy walking the Homesite Trail at Chestnut Ridge and looking back to the southeast over hills. The Spring Creek Trail at Sharon Woods is really nice because there is a wide variety of …Read More

My Favorite Places: Battelle Darby Creek (with my dog)

BETHANIE BIDINGER, Battelle Darby Creek Park Ranger Fall is a great time to visit Battelle Darby Creek to refresh from the summer heat and take in all the beauty that this favorite season has to offer. Hiking with my four-legged companions is one of my favorite ways to experience fall. Both parties appreciate the cooler weather and fewer bugs this season brings. Some of …Read More

My Favorite Places: Scott Felker

SCOTT FELKER, Three Creeks Naturalist One of my very favorite places to be in fall is Pickerington Pond’s Glacier Knoll observation deck at sunset. It’s not as much for the view as it is for the sights and sounds of wildlife. Flocks of ducks and geese return to the wetlands for the night, sandhill cranes make their loud and inimitable call, deer move through …Read More

My Favorite Places: Jecy Weber

JECY WEBER, Greenways Ranger There are many breathtaking vistas at Metro Parks. Either natural or manmade, it is not hard to find a place so beautiful it takes your breath away. When asked what my favorite places in Metro Parks are, places do not come to mind. Instead, I think of the interactions I have had with the public or with co-workers. These make …Read More

My Favorite Places: Inniswood Prairie Garden

COLLEEN SHARKEY, Environmental Educator, Inniswood Metro Gardens Bumblebees buzzing, crickets chirping and goldfinches exploding from wildflower plantings always brighten my day as I wander through the Prairie Garden at Inniswood Metro Gardens. Fall wildflowers are gorgeous right now and my favorite way to enjoy them is to walk among them, with the sunflowers and grasses towering above me. The mowed pathway through the Prairie Garden …Read More

Growing a forest from the ground up

ALYSSA BALTER, Restoration Ecologist Direct seeding of nuts offers a simple, cost-effective supplement to Metro Park’s reforestation efforts and has been an annual activity for nearly 20 years. This process is typically used to expedite tree establishment in small pockets between existing forest, which is much faster than natural seed dispersal. The focus for direct seeding this fall will be in a new parcel of Prairie …Read More

My Favorite Places: Walden Waterfowl Refuge

BRANDON NOVOTNY, Prairie Oaks Ranger The Walden Waterfowl Refuge at Blendon Woods qualifies as one of my favorite places, especially in late September and early October when waterfowl start to move in. I love to see the very colorful wood ducks, but there are plenty other species. Once the weather really turns and it gets to winter the refuge’s Thoreau Lake truly becomes a …Read More

My favorite place: Stunning downtown views at Scioto Audubon’s bocce ball courts

CHRISTOPHER DELGROSSO Assistant Manager, Scioto Audubon As summer bows its head and awaits the arrival of fall there is a magical transformation that takes place at Scioto Audubon Metro Park. What was once a sea of green hues will soon be upstaged by a mosaic of color. Like an abstract painting, our trails will come to life with color from around 400 deciduous trees, …Read More

Plein Air art society enjoys a Paint Out at Inniswood

A group of very talented artists unpacked their paints, brushes and canvases at Inniswood Metro Gardens recently. All of them are members of the Ohio Plein Air Society, and they visited Central Ohio’s premier botanical gardens for one of their society Paint Outs. Carol Cosgrove, the society’s Paint Out Czar (yes, that’s what it says on the society website), organizes these gatherings of artists …Read More

We’re Buckeyes because…

CODY BERKEBILE Blacklick Woods Naturalist Now that football season is here, Ohioans turn their focus to The Ohio State Buckeyes. Living in Columbus, it is impossible to ignore the barrage of buckeyes across all media. Fans are familiar with the buckeye nut, as it is the basis for the team’s mascot, Brutus Buckeye. This iconic mascot did not debut until the fall of 1965. Up …Read More

How to grow a butterfly

It’s that time of year when monarch butterflies begin their magical migration south to the mountains of Mexico, where they’ll spend the winter. I’ve been seeing monarch butterflies in the parks, and as I drive along the highways to and from work, and around Ohio. The adult butterflies, which have been alive for less than a couple of weeks, are making a journey south …Read More

Friday Night Floaters

The sun shone brightly on Sharon Woods’ 11-acre Schrock Lake as its recent Friday Night Float program began. Eager canoeists, many of them first-timers, signed-on for a 20-minute float around the tree-lined lake. Park staff and volunteers helped canoeists into life jackets, guided them into their canoes and pushed them from the launching dock and out onto the lake. One of the first set …Read More

Hellbenders make a splash as they return to Big Darby Creek

Eastern hellbenders found a new home in Big Darby Creek in August. More than 80 of these impressively sized creatures, the largest species of amphibian in Ohio and one of the largest salamanders in the world, settled comfortably into their new habitat. The reintroduction of this species to Big Darby Creek is a result of a partnership among Metro Parks, the Ohio Hellbender Partnership, Ohio …Read More

It’s threshing time

A golden, ripe wheat field is a beautiful sight and its appearance in July means it is grain threshing season on the farm. At Metro Parks’ Slate Run Living Historical Farm, the farm workers use an 1880s era horse powered threshing machine to separate the seed heads of wheat, oats, barley and rye from straw stalks. Marcus and Maude, two mighty Percheron draft horses, …Read More

Happy birthday, Henry David Thoreau

Two hundred years ago, on July 12, 1817, Henry David Thoreau was born in Concord, Massachusetts. This famous American author, transcendentalist, naturalist, political dissident and human rights advocate inspired the names behind Walden Waterfowl Refuge and Thoreau Lake at Blendon Woods. Thoreau is best known for spending more than two years in a cabin in the woods near Concord. While there, he spent his …Read More

World Snake Day: Celebrating Memaw and snakes around the globe

July 16 marks World Snake Day, a time to celebrate snakes and the vital roles they play in the ecosystem. The Metro Parks have several different snakes, including Memaw, a gray ratsnake. If you’ve ventured into Sharon Woods, you may have seen Memaw in the naturalist’s office. To celebrate World Snake Day, we’re sharing some fun facts about the gray ratsnake. Memaw, affectionately named for her …Read More

Butterflies of the Night

Butterflies get all the attention. They’re pretty, and they fly during the day when us fellow day-dwellers are likely to actually see them. Moths, on the other hand, are mostly nocturnal and often drab by comparison. But there are way more moths than butterflies in the world, and many are just as stunning as their butterfly brethren. Moths and butterflies are really two sides …Read More

The importance and beauty of forests

A summer walk in the cool green forests at any of your 19 Metro Parks will inspire your imagination and stir your senses. Forests are the centerpiece of most parks, from streamside or riparian forests of towering sycamores and gnarly box elders to the dry ridge-top forests of mountain laurel and chestnut oak. A forest is much more than a collection of trees. Our …Read More

Unsung beauties lie ready for discovery in the fields

A stroll or run through a Metro Park provides many views—forest, fields, mid-succession areas and mowed lawn areas. Fields provide a habitat for many plants and animals and are typically maintained to stay as that habitat, but were not planted with prairie flowers and grasses. If left alone, most fields and prairies would revert back to forest over time. To the casual observer, there …Read More

Threshing is done the old-fashioned way at Slate Run Living Historical Farm

With each passing month from spring to fall, the farm’s Percheron draft horses are kept busy as the driving forces behind the farm’s vast array of machinery and tools for field preparation. Whether it be plowing or harrowing fields, mowing to loading hay, I find it fascinating to watch these amazing animals in action. However, revealing itself in the month of July, there is …Read More

Bicycle Built for Two

Last week Rangers at Homestead Metro Park received a call on the duty cell phone from some cyclists at the end of the Heritage Trail.  They were concerned after finding a recumbent tandem bicycle with rear end damage and looking like it was “thrown” into the tree line.  Rangers were first on scene but quickly followed by what seemed to be a small army …Read More

Simply Succulents is simply fascinating

A long-standing tradition at Inniswood Metro Gardens is the seasonal garden theme for the display beds. This theme is chosen at the beginning of every year to help guide the designs of the 80 plus containers and annual displays planted throughout the grounds. In years past, themes have been everything from Going Tropical to A Concert of Color and Desirable and Reliable Annuals. This …Read More

The parks remove huge spreads of callery pear and other biological pollutants

If you hike the Mingo Trail at Scioto Grove Metro Park you will notice that many trees are being cut in the area. Visitors seem a little startled when they notice this. They think of Metro Parks as tree growers not tree cutters. These particular trees, however, are an example of what writer and entomologist Doug Tallamy calls “biological pollution.” These trees are called …Read More

Memorial Day Wrap Up 2017

Memorial Day has come and gone, ushering in the start of the summer season for us here at Metro Parks. The weekend was a good one, with little to no rain, even if the weathermen had called for it. Instead, Sunday and Monday were beautiful days and a ton of people came out to the Metro Parks. Battelle Darby Creek led the way for …Read More