With colder weather comes changing landscapes and spectacular fall color. Head out to your favorite Metro Park and marvel at the vibrant reds, warming yellows and fiery oranges that blanket the parks. Check in with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources to find when fall color is at its peak.
Andy Miller, Chestnut Ridge Assistant Park Manager
To take in fall color in its entirety, check out these three spots at Chestnut Ridge.
The fishing pond is a brilliant canvas for fall color. The pond reflects surrounding trees, giving twice as much color.
Take a walk on the Homesite Trail and you’ll see changing leaves all the way up to the ridge. Once you get two-thirds of the way up the hill, look south. You’ll see a valley between Chestnut Ridge and the next ridge section. There are a lot of trees in the valley, so there are plenty of colors including the pine trees on the park’s southern border.
Lastly, take a slow drive on the main road into the park. You’ll get to see the entire east side of the ridge lit up with colors from maple, cottonwood, oak, sycamore and walnut trees.
Marty Shull, Clear Creek Park Manager
As September winds down and the last summer days pass by, crisp mornings start to arrive as does the beginning of fall. Don’t cheat yourself of the opportunity to take in some great early fall colors in the meadows along the Cemetery Ridge Trail at Clear Creek.
The goldenrod and sumac, with its stunning red leaves, make the meadows pop with colors. If you come early in the morning, the new sun low in the sky makes the dew-covered spider webs sparkle like hundreds of crowns atop a wave of colors.
A drive along Clear Creek Road in mid-October is an excellent way to take in the fall colors at Clear Creek. The trees in the valley have dropped most of their leaves, letting in sunshine that highlights the stunning golds and reds of the oak and hickory trees that still hold their leaves on the hills above.
The ever present greens of the hemlocks in the hollows that creep down to the road only add to the beauty. With the creek running cold and clear, there are colorful leaves floating on the surface of the water and the crisp smell of fall is in the air; you couldn’t ask for better way to spend an afternoon on a fall weekend.
Another spectacular trail is the .9-mile Lake Trail, which winds through the woods and leads to an observation deck. From here, look out over Lake Ramona to see the fall color reflect on the water.
For the more adventurous, get a bird’s eye view of perhaps one of the best fall scenes in Central Ohio when you join us for the Buzzards Roost backcountry hike on October 13 at 10am. This 3-mile rugged hike will take you from the valley floor to the hill tops with an unforgettable vista of the park in peak fall colors from the 100-foot tall Buzzards Roost Cliff.
Russell Cowden, Highbanks Ranger
There’s no better time to visit Highbanks than fall, when the leaves begin to change and the air becomes brisk.
The Overlook and Dripping Rock trails are always popular this time of year, but don’t be afraid to look a little deeper on your next visit. Many people are familiar with the deck overlooking the Olentangy River, but did you know there is another deck west of the Nature Center on the Dripping Rock Trail? This is a wonderful place to see birds, deer and other wildlife or just enjoy the fall scenery.
Drive all the way into the park and enjoy the splendor of the Big Meadows picnic area during fall colors. I like to stop in the northernmost parking lot (under a magnificent maple tree) and look south to see nature’s brilliant display of yellows, reds and oranges. See you at the park!
Allison Shaw, Sharon Woods Naturalist
Sharon Woods turns into a spectacular place full of fiery reds, electric yellows and bright purples during fall. Check out these four trails to see fall color at its best!
Edward S. Thomas Trail
Take a walk on the 1-mile Edward S. Thomas Trail, which is named for the renowned naturalist, and you’ll find beautiful trees starting to show signs of fall, including American beech and large oak trees. The American beech turns a beautiful coppery-yellow in autumn while the large oak trees turn a reddish-brown. The observation deck provides a view of a big field where you might see deer grazing or a fox running through.
The 3.8-mile paved Multipurpose Trail travels through forest and field and passes over Spring Creek. It’s a great way to get some exercise by walking, jogging or riding your bicycle while soaking up the sights.
Spring Creek Trail
The pet-friendly Spring Creek Trail always offers incredible views, regardless of season. The trail winds through multiple habitats, crossing Spring Creek twice and traversing through two fields. Brilliant reds, vibrant purples and sunny yellows shine in the fields. You’ll see red leaves on black raspberry and blackberry bushes as well as bright purple New England asters.
Take a moment to admire the fields of goldenrod.
Sit by Schrock Lake and soak up some sunshine! You can watch migrating ducks as well as turtles and fish. Further down the trail, visitors can see two different prairie plots with brilliant sunflowers and early-season flowers that now serve as a food source for American goldfinches and a variety of other songbirds.
This diminutive tree is a welcome sight in autumn. Its fruits are a bright shade of pink and red. Drive down the main road through the park and you’ll see this stand out tree across from the Maple Grove picnic area.