Enjoy frosty fun at your Metro Parks

Three hikers walk along a snowy trail at Blendon Woods
Blendon Woods’ 3-mile Goldenrod Trail makes for a great winter walk. (Frank Kozarich)

Hiking
Things quiet down in the parks in winter making it the perfect time to bundle up and head out to one of the many nature trails in your Metro Parks. The cold crisp air will invigorate your senses and you’ll get closer and longer looks at wildlife while finding lots of animal tracks to investigate. Winter’s a great time to hit the Scenic River Trail at Highbanks Metro Park to look at ice formations on the Olentangy River. If you’re in luck, you might spot a blue heron or see a beaver.

Birders look for birds on snowy day at Sharon Woods
Cold-weather birding invigorates the spirit and washes away the winter blues. (Cheryl Blair)

Bird watching
Head out to the Kuhlwien Wetlands and the wet prairie at Battelle Darby Creek and hike the Harrier, Teal and Rail trails to look for Cooper’s and red-tailed hawks. Oftentimes, you can see them perched on poles looking for tasty morsels to feed upon. Be on the lookout for harriers, short ears, marsh wrens as well as field and song sparrows. Winter is a great time for birding at all your Metro Parks. The leaves are off the trees, making birds easier to spot and identify.

Close up view of snow flakes on blue background
Snowflakes and snow crystals are some of nature’s most stunning artistry and make for interesting shots. (Andrew Boose)

Photography
There are countless winter scenes to photograph in in the parks and its great time to get that perfect shot to enter in Metro Parks’ 2019 Nature Photo Contest. When the ground is snow covered, familiar scenes take on an entirely different perspective. Most mammals have thicker, fuller coats in winter, making them more striking to photograph. Capture a shot of a snow-covered bison with steam coming out of its nostrils at Battelle Darby Creek. Winter days with clear skies allow plenty of high-quality light for shooting. Streams, rivers and lakes covered with crepe-like layers of ice or blanketed with powdery snow make for great images.

Replica of skiull of Dunkleosteus, a giant ancient fish, at Highbanks Nature Center
Surprises, like this replica of an ancient armor-plated fish at Highbanks, are plentiful at all nature centers. (Beth Renner)

Nature Centers
After a brisk outing in the woods with the kids, be sure and stop at the nature centers at Battelle Darby Creek, Blacklick Woods, Blendon Woods or Highbanks. They’re the perfect place to explore and have fun while learning about wildlife and our world. From the nature center windows at Blendon Woods, you might see turkeys looking for tasty morsels under the bird feeders. At Battelle Darby Creek’s nature center, you can explore a 53-foot living stream stocked with creatures found in Big Darby Creek. Be sure and crawl inside the life-size sculpted sycamore tree at Highbanks. Curl up with a picture book in the teepee at the nature center at Blacklick Woods.

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