Winter Hikes Series – 50th Anniversary

Visitor and Engagement Manager

Winter Hikes composite: Hikers enjoy hot drinks by a fire after a hike at Blendon Woods (photo Cheryl Blair), and hikers on the trail at Blacklick Woods (photo John Nixon).

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.

Twinkling lights set up for Winter Hikes at Inniswood Metro Gardens (photo Bryan Knowles) and Homestead Metro Park (photo Jen Boniface).

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.

12 thoughts on “Winter Hikes Series – 50th Anniversary

  1. My wife and I enjoy the Metroparks very much. Thanks for offering a winter program to get our lazy old self out there to enjoy the beauty of winter.

    1. Excited to help celebrate the 50th anniversary of Winter Hikes. Can’t wait to see what some of the earlier traditions were. See you in December to February at one or two or all of them for the Winter Hike.

  2. My mother and I participated in the hikes during the winters of 1973 and 1974, and we enjoyed them. Looking back on those days, we would chuckle, because my mom was used to wearing high-heeled boots in the winter, and she saw no reason why she couldn’t wear them on the winter hikes. So she did, even on a 5-mile hike in the snow at Highbanks. On at least one hike, we got separated in the crowd of 75 or so people. Wondering whether she was ahead of or behind me, I looked at the tracks in the snow. Aha! Mom was ahead of me–there was a triangular mark with a dot behind it–the tracks of her high-heeled boots.

    Congratulations on keeping a great thing going for all these years!

  3. really look forward to the hikes this year. we enjoy the metro parks at any season but the winter hikes bring people together. thank you .

  4. Hello! These hikes are the best! Question-for the lantern hikes at Chestnut Ridge on 12/9 & 12/10, where in the park will people meet the Metro Park ranger to obtain a lantern/start the hike? Thanks!

    1. Hi Valerie – thank you for supporting the hikes! The hikes at Chestnut Ridge start at 5pm. Just follow the signs when you drive into the park. We hope you have a great time!

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