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group of people hiking along trail at Prairie Oaks Metro Park in West Jefferson Ohio for Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks winter hike series

Metro Parks Winter Hikes Series

Ohio's winter is in full force, but don't let the cold temperatures keep you from enjoying the outdoors!

Prairie Oaks Metro Park in West Jefferson

Metro Parks Winter Hikes Series

By Heather Rader

Posted On: Jan 13, 2023

It's no secret that winter in Ohio can be a little cold and gray, but that shouldn't stop you from getting outside to experience all of Ohio's natural beauty!

beaver lake at at Prairie Oaks Metro Park in West Jefferson Ohio during winter
Beaver Lake at at Prairie Oaks Metro Park in West Jefferson

Central Ohioans are fortunate to have a wonderful collection of metro parks to enjoy. The Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks features twenty natural area parks with more than 230 miles of trails and over 28,000 acres of land. The parks are free to visit and are a great place to explore nature year-round.

During the winter months, the Metro Parks features a Winter Hike Series, which encourages all ages to experience the winter beauty at a local park.

hand holding blue Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks winter hike series card at Prairie Oaks Metro Park in west jefferson ohio during winter in Ohio

This year, the Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks is celebrating 50 years of the Winter Hike Series! Now through February, bundle up, lace up your hiking boots, and visit a featured park to take a self-guided walk. Download and print a Winter Hike card online or pick one up at the highlighted weekly hike to collect stamps for every hike you complete. Once you hike seven parks (at your own pace), you'll earn a Metro Parks Winter Hike patch.

Start the new year off with a goal to trek at your local Metro Parks. During the months of January and February, free refreshments (hot drinks and treats) are served at the weekly highlighted park. Search for Metro Parks wooden ornaments to take home as a gift as you hike the trails, check online to see where the ornaments are each week.

Bridge over Big Darby Creek at Prairie Oaks Metro Park in west jefferson ohio during winter
Bridge over Big Darby Creek at Prairie Oaks Metro Park in West Jefferson

I recently attended the Winter Hike Series at Prairie Oaks Metro Park. With 2,200 acres of prairies, grasslands, several lakes, and the Big Darby State and National Scenic River flowing through it, Prairie Oaks is a great park for an easy to moderate hike.

couple walking on trail at Prairie Oaks Metro Park in West Jefferson Ohio during winter

Even though it was just below freezing when my parents and I started our nearly 3-mile hike, the sun was shining, and the crisp winter air felt invigorating. We walked alongside Central Ohioans of all ages, all with the common goal to get some steps in and to enjoy the great outdoors.

hand holding paper cup of hot chocolate near campfire at Prairie Oaks Metro Park in West Jefferson Ohio during Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks winter hike series

After our self-paced hike, we warmed up by the fire with a cup of hot chocolate and cookies while conversing with other hikers about our favorite hiking spots. It was the perfect winter morning to connect with nature and to enjoy our local Metro Parks!

Big Darby State and National Scenic River in Ohio during winter
Big Darby State and National Scenic River

The Winter Hike Series at the Columbus and Franklin Country Metro Parks is the perfect winter outdoor activity. I encourage you to get outside and enjoy Ohio's beautiful varying landscapes with one of these amazing winter hikes. 

For more seasonal hikes and parks & nature to enjoy this #WinterinOhio, check out #OhioFindItHere at Ohio.org.

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