Float on in your Metro Parks

BRANDON NOVOTNY, Park Ranger Prairie Oaks

Soak up all that summer has to offer with a float through your Metro Parks. Seven parks have access points along rivers and creeks, so you’re bound to find one that’s right for you. If you like fishing, wildlife viewing or just relaxing as you paddle downstream, try out these floats this summer!

A family canoes in Metro Parks. (Kim Strosnider).

Prairie Oaks
Head over to the Upper Darby canoe access at the north end of the park (4275 Amity Road, Hilliard) Put in here and float down Big Darby Creek. There are multiple take out options along the way depending on how long of a float you want to try. For a really fun day, put in at the Prairie Oaks access point and make the 13-mile float to the canoe access at Battelle Darby Creek. You may see ospreys, beavers and other wildlife. If moving water isn’t your thing, go to Darby Bend Lakes at Prairie Oaks. Three old quarries have been transformed into lakes that you can spend the day floating on. These lakes are the only ones in Metro Parks you can put a kayak or canoe on and are worth the trip!

A woman looks for birds while kayaking in Big Darby Creek at Prairie Oaks. (Kim Graham)

Scioto Grove
Come relax at Scioto Grove! Bring your binoculars and look out for various birds as you float down the Scioto River. For a really fun experience reserve one of the free backpacking sites that are right along the river and try floating down to your campsite instead of hiking!

Two kids paddle down the Scioto River at Scioto Grove. (Virginia Gordon).

Highbanks is the perfect place to see 100-foot high shale bluffs. Put in near the Big Meadows parking area and float down the Olentangy River. For a short 1.5-mile trip, take out at the River Bluff area. If you want to paddle further, there are multiple areas with access points south of the park. As you wind your way down the river, keep an eye out for a pair of eagles hunting for food as they soar overhead.

Two people canoe in the Olentangy River. (Destination Delaware County Ohio)

Scioto Audubon
Spectacular city views await you along the Scioto River. Put in at the boating access at Scioto Audubon and float down the river. The Scioto Greenway Trail follows this route and while you can get these views walking or biking, soaking up the view of downtown Columbus from a kayak or canoe is amazing! If you’re looking for a longer float, put in below the Greenlawn dam at Scioto Audubon and paddle 6.5 miles to Scioto Grove’s northern canoe access.

Children paddle along the Scioto River. (Virginia Gordon)

As well as the four parks highlighted above, there are canoe and kayak access point at Battelle Darby Creek, Three Creeks and Walnut Woods.

Share your kayaking or canoeing photos with us at mediagroup@metroparks.net

10 thoughts on “Float on in your Metro Parks

  1. Can you kayak on Big Darby from Prairie Oaks to Battelle without having to portage around any dams?

    I thought there were so low-head dams that were some obstacles to simple paddling.

  2. I’m almost ready to get out my kayak and start paddling. This was helpful.

    1. Thanks, Wayne – Glad you found it helpful and we hope you enjoy your paddling in or through the parks.

  3. Is this blog for people that own kayak and canoes only. Do any of the parks rent them out?
    thank you,

    1. Stephanie – the parks do not have canoes or kayaks for rental. So mostly, the blog is to inspire people to bring their own canoes or kayaks to the parks. However, there are some public canoeing the lakes programs at the parks where canoes are provided. One canoe program is at Prairie Oaks on July 4, and Sharon Woods has canoe programs on July 5, 6 and 7. Details can be found on the Metro Parks programs and reservations site (go to metroparks.net and to Plan Your Visit/Programs Search from the top menu)

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