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

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

Winter Fun with Kids at Five Metro Parks

JULIE MILLER, Guest Blogger With kids, I often think of summer as the time for hiking and exploring parks. When winter comes, I am inclined to hibernate instead. However, that only leads to cabin fever and we all end up cooped up and stir crazy. It turns out that winter is a great time to explore our local Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks. …Read More

Strolling through the decades

Blacklick Woods Metro Park opened 69 years ago, just as Sam Nonnamacher was settling back into civilian life. He served in World War II as a Marine and returned home to Columbus in 1946. When the park opened two years later, Sam went to check it out. When he first started going to the park, it was for relaxation and a bit of exercise. …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: Highbanks

BRANDON NOVOTNY, Ranger Prairie Oaks The overlook deck at Highbanks is one of my favorite spots for fall color, but it’s a wonderful sight at any time of year, with the river, the high banks that the park is named for and the eagles’ nest. The trail that leads to it is a beautiful walk, the best I have found so far in the …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: 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

October is bat appreciation month

CARRIE MORROW, Assistant Resource Manager I’m standing under a huge, dead cottonwood tree. Much of the bark has fallen off and the smooth inner bark stands out as a white beacon in the dark green woods. The sun is setting rapidly and a barred owl calls off in the distance. A mosquito buzzes by my ear and I swat it away with my hand. …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: four great places in fall

TOM COCHRAN, Prairie Oaks Manager In my opinion, there is no better place to view fall colors than along Big Darby Creek at Prairie Oaks, especially from the bridge that connects Darby Bend Lakes to the main part of the park. The lakes are also a great spot to view migrating waterfowl. There are also opportunities to see numerous deer in fall, including some very large …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

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

Metro Parks help one out-of-stater get ready for some big races this summer

The call of the wild and the open spaces of nature have always had a powerful allure for one out-of-state resident, who visits family in Central Ohio at least three times a year. Jennifer Thorsen can’t keep away from the Metro Parks when she’s here (despite her parents’ objections). Jenny, age 37, lives in St Charles, Illinois, and says, “Running and nature are great …Read More

Ancient earthwork found at Blacklick Woods

UPDATE, SEPT 22, 2017 On Sunday Sept 24, 2017, archaeologist Jared Burks will conduct a magnetic survey of the recently discovered earthwork at Blacklick Woods, using ground penetrating radar equipment to read the different layers of substrate in the soil and so produce clearer mapping of the earthwork. We invite you to meet with us at the nature center at noon and we’ll take …Read More

Hail the Creek Taxi

The Creek Taxi will soon be in service to help canoers and kayakers enjoy a great float on Big Darby Creek. This special, one-time service is set for Saturday June 10. Bring your own registered canoe or kayak to the Upper Darby Canoe Access at Prairie Oaks Metro Park, 4275 Amity Rd. Hilliard OH 43026. Park there and enjoy a 2-mile self-guided float on …Read More

Bees work hard to pollinate fruit and vegetables at Slate Run Farm

Swarms of honey bees have recently visited the orchard at Slate Run Living Historical Farm. While some people may find this unsettling, it is a sign that the nearby hives are healthy, which is a very good thing. Bees are an integral part of food production. Without them, there would be no apples, peaches, peppers, cucumbers, nor many other fruits and vegetables. Swarms can …Read More

Keep the wild in wildlife

Late spring is the perfect time to get outside and enjoy a romp through the parks. My personal favorite is going for a hike shortly after a rain. There is something magical to me about the woods when the air is still cool and tiny rain droplets cling to rejuvenated leaves. I love the sights and smells, and especially seeing all the life around …Read More

Loving memories inspire great new features at Blendon Woods for the Wild Child in all of us

We hear it all the time: “Life is short.” And the rest are memories of that life. This is the backstory of the redesigned natural play area at Blendon Woods Metro Park—also known in my life as “Daddy and Maris’ park.” This morning when I woke up, my social media memories delivered the day my husband Tim and I announced that we were pregnant. …Read More

The weekly search for butterflies at Inniswood yields fascinating results

It probably isn’t a surprise that bees and butterflies of all kinds find a home at Inniswood. Our combination of cultivated gardens and natural areas provides opportunities to meet the needs of many lepidoptera species. Every week, April through October, an Inniswood educator sets out on a stroll through the gardens in search of butterflies. We follow a set route past flower beds, prairie …Read More

A float down Big Darby Creek is the perfect pick-me-up

If you’d like a beautiful, tranquil, challenging canoe or kayak float without leaving Franklin County then Big Darby Creek is for you. This dedicated National Scenic River is not only a biological gem it’s also an opportunity for a day of visual candy. Nature at its best is revealed as you float down the creek, making twisting turns and bouncing through riffled waters. Then …Read More

Five Trees to visit this Arbor Day Weekend (or any other time too)

It’s Arbor Day in Ohio, Friday April 28, 2017. Why not get out and celebrate this Arbor Day weekend by exploring your Metro Parks for some giants—giant trees, that is. The following are just a very few of the awesome trees you could visit. Follow the links for park directions and trail maps. Perhaps taking in the majesty of these behemoths will inspire you …Read More

Vernal Pools 2: What a change a month can bring

Last month when we visited the vernal pool (see Blog post), spring was just starting to break free from the icy grip of winter, although this winter wasn’t so icy…! The salamanders and wood frogs had just awakened from their winter torpor, the fairy shrimp cruised silently under the water’s surface, and the resident birds were cautiously announcing the longer days with song. But …Read More

See a bounty of nature’s riches at Blacklick Woods Metro Park

Spring is a special time in any temperate deciduous forest. The woods wake up after sleeping all winter, and a variety of life “springs” forth. In the swamp forest at Blacklick Woods, the vernal pools come alive. These temporary wetlands fill with water from snowmelt and spring rains, and despite having been dry since the previous summer, suddenly teem with life. Amphibians are the …Read More

Protect our Parks!

Students in Upper Arlington Spanish IV Honors classes just implemented a very creative and impactful service learning project aimed at making healthy and clean choices toward our environment. Students collaborated with Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks to develop a series of informational videos designed to encourage English & Spanish speaking park visitors help protect their parks. This project was designed as an initiative …Read More

Friends of Metro Parks award “Tad Jeffrey Memorial Grants” to six parks

Friends of Metro Parks will again award grants to parks from the Tad Jeffrey Memorial Grants Fund. Last year, five were awarded inaugural Tad Jeffrey Memorial Grants to complete unique and diverse projects to enrich the park experience for visitors. The projects included an insect hotel, a roving nature station, and even a tandem bike to use on the Greenway Trails. These grants were …Read More

Metro Parks provide ideal places to start a walking or running routine

On a slightly brisk, yet sunny March day, a group of women keen to start a walking or running routine met at Blacklick Woods’ Beech Maple Lodge for a Metro Five-0: Walk and Run 101 program. They were greeted by Metro Parks Outreach Naturalist Karen Ricker and Columbus Running Company’s Outreach Coordinator Lisa Dillahunt. The program, for people age 50 and older, was designed …Read More

The eagles star in their ongoing show at Highbanks

In late 2009, a bald eagle pair started investigating an abandoned raptor nest within Highbanks Metro Park, along the Olentangy River. They were young birds, by eagle standards, probably about four years old, and this was their first nesting attempt. Though the nest was hard to see, a few dedicated volunteers spent many hours from March to May 2010 monitoring the eagles. They used …Read More

New life is here now, but the Farm’s heritage breeds cement a bridge to the past

Spring is the beginning of the new farming year, when the gardens and fields are being planted. It is also the time when we have the most animal births, specifically our sheep, cattle and hogs. As Slate Run is a Living Historical Farm, we do things the 1880s way. It means that our animals are heritage breeds, which can be loosely defined as breeds …Read More


Metro Parks educators are always trying to find new ways to engage our park visitors to utilize nature. Several years ago, a few naturalists read an article in the National Association for Interpretation magazine about fairy house programs and events. This seemed like an interesting way to get new visitors to the parks, but some of us wondered whether it would work, whether it might not …Read More

A Metro Parks Success Story in Community Policing

In 2016, Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks was one of the first agencies in the state to have been certified in meeting Ohio’s standards to improve community and police relations. So far, 506 of the state’s 877 law enforcement agencies have adopted or are working toward adopting statewide standards for use of force, use of deadly force and the recruitment and hiring of …Read More

Five steps to an edible landscape

Growing our own food doesn’t have to change our residential landscape into a row-covered produce farm. The food that we grow can also be quite pleasing to the eye and there are some simple ways to add them to your garden. Here are five ways to incorporate edibles into an existing landscape. Look down First, remember to look down. Many types of thyme grow …Read More

Pokémon Inspirations

The mobile game Pokémon Go made a big impact on us at Highbanks last year. We had approximately 400,000 additional visitors to the park compared to 2015, and a big part of that increase was people coming to Highbanks in order to play the game. Visitors arrived at Highbanks from all over Ohio, and some even made trips from Indiana, Michigan, and Illinois so …Read More

Kids learn about golf and learn life skills at The First Tee of Central Ohio programs

Registration is under way for the spring sessions of The First Tee of Central Ohio programs for kids age 5 to 17, hosted by Blacklick Woods Golf Courses. There is a lot of fun and a lot of golf, but the programs are also designed to build character and develop leadership skills. More than a thousand kids participated in the program last year, led …Read More

The Best Part About Metro Parks’ Summer Camps—EVERYTHING!

UPDATE FOR 2018:  Details of Metro Parks Summer Camps for 2018  Here at Metro Parks, we’re gearing up for summer and you know what that means—SUMMER CAMP! Trails are cleared, hot dogs are roasted, archery bows are strung, kayaks are docked on the bank, fishing line and friendship bracelet thread is untangled, and all of the wonders of your Metro Parks are waiting for you …Read More