Visitor and Engagement Manager
In Ohio, people often assume that the winter means a time to cuddle up inside and avoid the outdoors. Fifty years ago, Metro Parks challenged central Ohioans to bundle up and enjoy the parks throughout the winter by creating our Winter Hikes series. The hikes were originally set up with a naturalist and volunteers leading visitors along a different trail each Saturday from January to February. Hikers could enjoy soup and camaraderie after the hikes. A crowd of 75 hikers was a VERY good day in the parks during those early years.
About 10 years ago, winter hike crowds began to surge and it was no longer shocking to see 1,000 hikers on a Saturday morning! Hikers were encouraged to go on their own self-guided walk as the naturalists and volunteers could no longer lead a walk for that many visitors at once. Soup and fun was still a major part of the hike series, although some decided to avoid the crowd and eat elsewhere after their hikes. As with all things, the pandemic forced the hike series to change and it shifted to a self-guided, avoid the crowds, concept.
This year, for our 50th Anniversary of the Winter Hikes series, we are bringing back some of the tradition while still keeping things flexible. Visitors can hike any trail any time from December to February as part of the series. Each month will feature different parks where you can take a walk, get your hike card stamped and maybe join a group for a walk. Hike under the Twinkling Lights in December and in January and February enjoy hot drinks and treats or search for a collectible winter hike wooden medallion along the trail. Check out the basics below or go to our website Winter Hikes page for all the details.
1. Visit the parks highlighted each month and hike any trail during the designated month.
2. Have a staff member stamp your Winter Hikes card.
3. Hike 7 parks to earn your Metro Park Winter Hikes patch.
4. Join us at the celebration on February 26, 2023 to receive your new Winter Hikes patch.
5. Visit Friends of Metro Parks to find out how to earn hike medallions and additional swag!
So, bundle up, choose your route, grab a friend and go for a hike this winter in your Metro Parks.