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Metro Parks welcome winter weather with activities
If being cooped up this winter is getting you down, perhaps you should set aside your book, take off your Snuggie and consider visiting one of central Ohio’s many Metro Parks, which are bustling with activities designed to get your blood moving and your spirits awakened.
“Winter is such a beautiful time at the Metro Parks,” said Peg Hanley, spokeswoman for the parks district. “The minute you step on a trail – you breathe in the cold air, you see the sparkling snow, and it recharges your batteries.”
One might think that the Metro Parks slow down in winter – but that’s really not the case, Hanley pointed out.
“We offer about 500 programs per quarter,” she said. “They range from programs for preschoolers, family – even a new program called Metro 5-0 for those 50 and older. And most of our programs are free.”
The winter hike series, which has been a Metro Parks tradition for more than 35 years, can draw as many as 1,700 people looking to bust out of hibernation mode, Hanley said. Hanley said she has seen a lot of new faces this winter, and she credits social networking such as Facebook and Twitter with the increase in participation at activities at all the Metro Parks.
“I’m seeing people at these hikes I didn’t see before,” she said. “I think it is social networking that is bringing in lots of people. People who Twitter or Facebook are rebroadcasting our events to their audience. We’re getting new people – we’re getting younger people.”
There are still several excursions remaining in the winter hike series, and guided and self-guided hikes are offered. They include: Highbanks, 9466 US 23 N in Lewis Center, 2.5 or 5 miles, 10 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 12; Glacier Ridge, 9801 Hyland Croy Road in Plain City, 2 miles, 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 13; Scioto Audubon, 395 W. Whittier St. in downtown Columbus, 1 or 2 miles, 10 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 13; Battelle Darby Creek, 1775 Darby Creek Drive in Galloway, 2, 4, or 6 miles, 10 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 26; and Slate Run, 1375 State Route 674 N in Canal Winchester, 2 or 4.5 miles, 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 27. Registration is not required, and refreshments are provided.
A snowy winter like this year is the perfect time to get out your sled, Hanley said. The Metro Parks have several sledding hills, including: Battelle Darby Creek, south on Alkire Road, just east of Darby Creek bridge); Blacklick Woods golf courses; Blendon Woods (for kids only), turn right at ranger station and continue to dead-end; Highbanks Big Meadows picnic area; Sharon Woods, just north of park entrance on Cleveland Avenue. For conditions, call (614) 891-0700 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Cross-country skiing is also offered when ski conditions exist on designated trails, Hanley said. It is available at Battelle Darby Creek, Blacklick Woods and golf courses, Blendon Woods, Chestnut Ridge, Clear Creek, Glacier Ridge, Heritage Trail, Highbanks, Prairie Oaks, Slate Run and Three Creeks.
“When the conditions are good, I’m seeing more people trying their hand at cross-country skiing,” Hanley said.
Skating ponds are also available at two Metro Parks, Battelle Darby Creek and Blendon Woods, and are open from 6:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. if the weather conditions permit. Hanley encouraged people to call ahead to make sure the ponds are open for skating. For Battelle Darby Creek call (614) 370-6254, and for Blendon Woods call (614) 620-1861.
One popular winter event is coming up at Slate Run Living Historical Farm, 1375 State Route 674 North in Canal Winchester – a maple syrup hike and syrup-making event.
“You get the opportunity to watch them tap and tree and see them make syrup,” Hanley said.
The hike will be held from 1-3 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 26. A short hike to the sugarbush leaves the farm at 1 and 2 p.m. Sap collecting and boiling is dependent on the weather, but all other activities take place whether or not the sap is flowing. A presentation on learning about making maple syrup the 1880s way will be held from 1-3:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 27.
If getting out in the snow and cold isn’t your thing, the Metro Parks still has options for you this winter, Hanley said.
“A lot of people will just come out to our nature center,” she said.
Giant windows known as “Windows on Wildlife” span the room allowing for great wildlife viewing while staying warm and toasty, and naturalists and volunteers are available to answer questions. At the nature centers, Ohio’s natural and cultural history are featured through exhibits, seeing wildlife up close, and participating in activities.
Nature centers are offered at Highbanks, 9466 U.S. 23 North in Lewis Center; Blendon Woods, 4265 E. Dublin-Granville Road; and Blacklick Woods, 6975 E. Livingston Ave. They are open from noon to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday in February. In March, they are open from noon to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
Other winter features include programming for preschoolers, homeschooled children and more. For more information on winter activities at Metro Parks, visit its website at www.metroparks.net or call (614) 891-0700.
“You’ve been cooped up, you’re probably tired of winter,” Hanley said. “Get out of your cocoon. Whether it’s participating in the winter hike series or just coming to the nature center and just sitting quietly, along the way you might meet somebody or learn something. And it’s free – you’re not spending a dime.”
|On February 11, 2011 said:
This is a great article.The Metro Parks offer great activities for just about anyone looking for a way to get some fresh air and shed that cabin fever syndrome.Winter can be boring and cold.However,if you bundle up and want to feel a sense of renewal,just visit one of the great metro parks and enjoy a nice walk on one of the many wonderful nature trails.My favorite is Darby Creek Metro Park.It offers many trails and the great thing about the parks is that it is free!With the economy being in such disarray,The Metro Parks has also become a way for families to seek out more budget friendly forms of entertainment or activities.I apprecite all Of The parks.They are just beautiful anytime of year.Thank You
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