Outdoor Adventure Program Coordinator
How many of you have “backpacking” on your 2023 adventure goals? There are many great locations to backpack in Ohio, and several in your Columbus & Franklin County Metro Parks!
It can be common to interchange the terms backpacking and camping when talking about sleeping under the stars. There are some subtle (but significant!) differences. Backpacking sites don’t have electricity, drinking fountains, flushable restrooms, no need for an RV, and your car isn’t parked next to your site. In backpacking, you carry everything you need for the night on your back in a pack. You hike to your sleeping spot for the night and hike out in the morning.
Interested in camping? Our friends at Ohio State Parks have great camping spots to check out.
Metro Parks doesn’t have public camping sites, but there are free backpacking sites at Scioto Grove Metro Park and Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park. Provide your own gear and create your own backpacking adventure.
Scioto Grove Metro Park’s trail is great for a beginner or backpacker looking to do a gear shake down on the weekend. Sites follow the REI River Trail and are equipped with two tent pads, a fire pit, and logs to sit around the fire. Several of them also have posts for hammock backpacking. This is a great place to go backpacking to find out if backpacking is for you. If you wake up in the morning and decide you love backpacking, great! If you wake up in the morning and decide backpacking isn’t for you or the kids, great! The drive back home for a nap in your bed will be nice and quick.
Battelle Darby Creek’s trail is longer in length and has more topography. It follows a public trail and a trail reserved for permit use only to help preserve the ecological area and deerpath feel of the backpacking trail. You’ll have great views of Big Darby Creek, an area that is recognized nationally for its tremendous biodiversity. Features of the sites are similar to Scioto Grove’s and are available every day of the week.
Interested in backpacking but not sure where to start? Metro Parks Outdoor Adventure staff offers an Intro to Backpacking series and overnight trips in Metro Parks. Recreation staff will have equipment available to practice with and use during Metro Parks’ overnight programs. Look for these programs in Spring and Fall.