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