HOMESTEAD METRO PARK
This spring, staff at Homestead started the conversion of mowed lawn into habitat by seeding native tallgrass prairie. It will take three to five years for the prairie to become established. Since the planted area is highly visible, staff incorporated annuals into the seed mix to produce a display of beautiful flowers early in the process. This summer there have been bursts of white, yellow and oranges, but nothing has compared to the pinks and purples of the cosmos flowering right now. Cosmos are not native, and are not expected to strongly reseed themselves. They will eventually disappear out of the planting, as the prairie plants begin to take over. This year will be the most abundantly colorful year, so right now is the time to visit.
The main planting is along Cosgray Road near the entrance to Homestead Metro Park, but there are more plantings on the west end of the park as well. The multi-use trail skirts around both of the planted areas and a mowed path starting near the nature center goes through the middle. (By Bryan Knowles, Park Manager at Glacier Ridge and Homestead Metro Park)
HIGHBANKS METRO PARK
The Overlook Trail at Highbanks is a scenic hike no matter the season, but fall color can certainly be a bonus. Almost the entire 2.3-mile trail is through the forest and along the ravines. One section at the beginning of the trail passes a field full of yellow goldenrod and purple and white asters. The trees that border that field tend to change color earlier than others and provide a backdrop of yellow and orange. Several dogwood trees along the edge are a nice, deep purple too.
Continuing under the tree canopy, look for red vines of poison ivy and Virginia creeper. The spicebush trees that fill the understory also provide pops of gold. Once on the Overlook Deck, visitors can delight in the beautiful fall colors along the Olentangy River. There are yellow cottonwood trees, orange maples and rusty oaks. The deck provides a great location to enjoy a sunset or watch for bald eagles soaring while delighting in the fall season. (By Jill Snyder, Naturalist at Highbanks Metro Park)