Visitor and Engagement Manager
Quarry Trails Metro Park won 1st Place in the Ohio Parks and Recreation Association’s (OPRA) Annual Award of Excellence for Capital Improvements – $2.5 million and up. It is also in the running for the 2022 Governor’s Award for Parks and Recreation, a “best-in-show” award which includes a $500 contribution to the parks and recreation foundation of the agency winner.
Quarry Trails Metro Park opened December 2021, making a century long dream come true. Since the 1930s, central Ohioans envisioned Marble Cliff Quarry as a possible park site, due to its prime location and cultural history. Located minutes from downtown Columbus and within five miles of 350,000 residents, it fulfilled Metro Parks’ levy promise to have a park within 5 miles of every Franklin County resident. In just the first month of opening, 70,000 visitors explored the park and saw the wish become reality!
The challenges of transforming a quarry site into a greenspace for the public allows Metro Parks to be creative and focus on providing one-of-a-kind recreational experiences. The park utilizes boulders, slopes and steep hillsides to create a perfect space for a challenging mountain bike course and the largest, longest sled hill in the area. A quarry cliff face is being transformed into the first free-to-use urban Via Ferrata route in the country. Hiking and pet-friendly trails with stunning views of Millikin Falls attract visitors and beautiful quarry lakes provide a hub for paddling activities.
The park also features a unique partnership with over 1,100 residential, commercial and retail units within the boundaries of the park while protecting nearly 200 acres of riparian corridor and floodplain. The park provides amenities for all ages, abilities and interests with more features to come, and a projected annual attendance of over 600,000 visitors per year, making Quarry Trails Metro Park a regional, if not national, destination.
One judge commented, “Very creative and unique! Such an awesome project and hopefully changing the future of how we look at parks!”
The OPRA Annual Awards of Excellence will be presented at a banquet hosted by the association on January 31, 2023 at the Kalahari Convention Center in Sandusky, Ohio.
“Parks and recreation professionals throughout Ohio work every day to improve the quality of life of the people they serve,” said OPRA Executive Director Woody Woodward. “This effort is a shining example of that kind of work, and we are pleased to be able to present this award.”