New Year’s resolution leads to new love of Metro Parks and a visit to them all

MEGAN EAGAN, Guest Blogger

Young couple and their baby pose for photo on bridge over Big Darby Creek
Megan and Michael with baby James at Prairie Oaks in November.

As residents of Gahanna, my husband, Michael, and I had always frequented Metro Parks closest to home: Blendon Woods, Inniswood and Sharon Woods. It was on a walk at Blendon Woods on Christmas Day 2016 when we realized how many Metro Parks we hadn’t seen and decided to try and visit them all. Our 2017 New Year’s resolution was born.

Our adventure began on a warm but cloudy Saturday in January. We ventured out to Blacklick Woods, which was bustling with many other Central Ohioans taking advantage of a break in the cold weather. We didn’t know it at the time, but I was pregnant with our first child. It was on that walk that we grabbed a ParkScope, which included a map of all 19 Metro Parks. We used that map throughout the year as a guide and highlighted each park as we visited them.

That spring and summer we made weekend or after-work plans to visit new parks. Michael had fun investigating which park we should visit next. If we needed to visit a certain part of town, could we sneak in a walk at a park while we were there? Where’s a good lunch spot to check out after a successful hike? Not only were we exploring the Metro Parks, but also our beloved city that we’ve called home for more than 10 years.

Young father pushes baby stroller across bridge over Big Walnut Creek at Three Creeks Metro Park
Michael takes James on a stroll at Three Creeks, just coming up to the bridge over Big Walnut Creek.

As my pregnancy progressed, our Metro Parks visits became a great time to discuss the future — what we thought life would be like with a baby and our hopes and dreams for our soon-to-be child. We even decided on our son’s name on a walk at Rocky Fork. At that time, we took for granted how easy it was to decide on a park and go. After James was born, our park trips required much more planning. We had to make sure there were stroller-friendly trails, time feedings appropriately and consider the weather more carefully.

We walked in cold rain at Walnut Woods and snow at Glacier Ridge. We enjoyed a frigid afternoon at Slate Run Living Historical Farm and a leisurely evening bike ride at Sharon Woods. We visited Pickerington Ponds when James was just five days old.

We discussed early on in the process that at the end of our journey we would rank the parks from most to least favorite. As we ticked parks off our to-do list, we realized this was impossible. Each Metro Park we visited was such a remarkable experience and more importantly, held a special memory:

  • The amazing nature center at Battelle Darby Creek
  • The variety of wildlife seen on a summer morning hike at Scioto Grove
  • The beautiful fall foliage at Three Creeks
  • The abundance of activities at Scioto Audubon

We began our New Year’s resolution as a family of two and finished on December 17, 2017 as a family of three. It was probably the first resolution we have ever completed and it felt amazing! We have always had an appreciation for Metro Parks, but we had no idea how vast the options for outdoor activity were. There are so many parks we are anxious to get back to in 2018. We hope to see you there!

Young couple pose for camera on a trail at Prairie Oaks Metro Park
Megan and Michael Eagley at Chestnut Ridge Metro Park.