Float on through the parks

BRANDON NOVOTNY, Prairie Oaks Ranger

Canoeists on Big Darby Creek. (Tina Copeland)

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.

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 Creek, Scioto River and Alum, Big Walnut and Blacklick creeks to see these incredible birds.

An osprey swoops and catches a fish. (Karen Chism)

You can also find minks and beavers throughout the parks, but you have an especially good chance to see them if you are paddling Big Darby Creek at Prairie Oaks.

A mink swims to shore. (John Bonnett)

If you’re lucky, you might even spot a river otter in Big Darby Creek at Battelle Darby Creek. It’s rumored that the small but growing population, about 8,000 in Ohio, have been seen in a few Central Ohio rivers. Although rare, they’re worth looking out for.

Sunrises and Sunsets
For the most incredible sunsets, float out at Darby Bend Lakes at Prairie Oaks. The sunsets are killer.

Vibrant sunset at Darby Bend Lakes in Prairie Oaks. (Scott Zimmerman)

Spectacular Views
Paddle along the Olentangy River through Highbanks and marvel at the huge, 100-foot high shale bluff for which the park is named. It’s an awesome view and you can see the eagles nest from a different perspective. Park up in Big Meadows and float down to the new river bluff property. It will take you through the park, past the bluffs and by the eagle’s nest.

The 100-foot shale bluffs on the Olentangy River give Highbanks Metro Park its name. (John Watts)

Tell us your favorite spot to canoe or kayak in Metro Parks

8 thoughts on “Float on through the parks

    1. Hi, Colleen. If you’re not participating in a canoeing/kayaking program at one of the Metro Parks, you can paddle at Darby Bend Lakes at Prairie Oaks. If you want to canoe or kayak along one of the creeks, you will need a second vehicle to pick you up at your end point.

  1. if I wanted to kayak at Highbanks Metro, where would I rent the kayak and how do I know where in the park to shove off?


  2. Looking for an area where some in the family can kayak while some picnic and have access to playground or open area. Any suggestions?

    1. Laura, thanks for your inquiry. We have canoe/kayak access at five parks*, and you can access details from this page of our website: https://www.metroparks.net/programs-and-activities/park-activities/
      The canoe/kayak access points in the Darby Bend Lakes area at Prairie Oaks are close to picnic shelters (with grills), which are available on a first-come first-serve basis. You can also check park maps on each of the five parks pages to see where the nearest picnic and play areas are to the canoe/kayak locations. *(Battelle Darby Creek, Highbanks, Prairie Oaks, Three Creeks, Walnut Woods)

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