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 to some of the area’s earliest settlers. Joseph and Sally Pool came to Columbus in 1812 from New York and farmed the land that’s now part of Highbanks.
On the way to the overlook deck, you’ll see a depression followed by a berm. This large semi-circular earthwork was constructed by the Late Woodland Native people and designated as a National Historic Landmark.
The observation deck provides views of the Olentangy State Scenic River. Gaze down on a floodplain dominated by sycamore trees, growing along the river some 110 feet below or watch for eagles swooping down on the water and snagging a snack.
Wildlife is abundant in this wooded area, so be on the lookout for squirrels, deer, fox and chipmunks.
The Overlook Trail is part of the 206-acre Edward F. Hutchins State Nature Preserve situated on 100-foot high bluffs overlooking the Olentangy State Scenic River. The preserve honors Hutchins extraordinary efforts in acquiring park land and promoting conservation during his tenure as Metro Parks director.
Battelle Darby Creek
Pick up the scenic Terrace Trail from the Indian Ridge picnic area. It’s a moderate 2-mile trail that runs adjacent to Big Darby Creek for a while and loops through the woods. From this loop, you can connect to the Camp Chase Trail or the Ancient Trail to extend your hike or just head to Big Darby Creek and dip your toes into the creek to cool off. The trail is mostly forested and the western side of the loop passes by Big Darby Creek.
Bring your binoculars and camera as you might see turkeys, meadowlarks, red-headed woodpeckers and white-tailed deer. Be sure and hit this trail when the leaves begin to turn. There’s nothing like a creekside view of fall.
And if you’re really observant, you’ll see the rusted remains of a Chevy truck dating from the 50s about a half mile along the trail.
Head to the Shady Grove picnic area with the family and head out on the Five Oaks Trail. This 1.5-mile trail traverses a steep ravine that contains several Ohio black shale outcrops. The trail was named after a massive oak tree that once sported five huge limbs but now has four. You’ll see this tree about a quarter mile into your hike.
Follow the trail past the ravine overlook deck and down to the bottom of the hill and have some fun in the 7-acre natural play area. Wade in the shallow stream and look for crawdads and other aquatic critters or explore the wooded hillside.