There are some beautiful parks around Columbus. The Metro Park system has a variety of locations.
There are stunning gardens, wetlands overflowing with wildlife, rolling pastures, and wooded paths. But the most unique of the Columbus Metro Parks isn’t in Columbus at all.
About 40 minutes from Downtown Columbus, you’ll find Clear Creek Metro Park, in Rockbridge, OH. Nestled just north of Hocking Hills State Park, and West of Wayne National Forest, Clear Creek Metro Park is the largest state nature preserve in Ohio.
The park is made up of 5,300 acres of woodland interspersed with blackhand sandstone cliffs, ravines, and creeks. It is also home to more than 2,200 species of plants and animals.
Clear Creek Metro Park is open daily, from 6:30 a.m. until 9 p.m. April 1 through September 30 and 6:30 a.m. to dark October 1 through March 31. It’s the perfect destination for a day trip full of nature and wildlife. And when they say “Clear Creek”, they mean it.
There are roughly 6 miles of easy creek access, which is super convenient if you’re in the mood to do a little fly fishing or creeking. The creek is stocked with rainbow trout every November, which generally hold over until May.
Visiting with the whole family? Make sure that you leave time to visit the Benua Loop, which is home to the park’s Storybook Trail. Kids can follow along with different stories (usually updated monthly) while they hike through the gorgeous backdrop of the park.
Clear Creek is one of those places that’s gorgeous to visit any time of the year. In the spring, the wildflowers begin blooming and the forest is full of the first signs of life. While visiting in the summer, the shade of the canopy will keep you cool as you explore the parks most beautiful trails.
Fall in Clear Creek is stunning, with the colors popping so brightly that you have to see it in person to truly understand how beautiful it is. And last, but far from least, visiting in the winter offers a unique experience, including the option to take a hike to the famous ice cave.
The Ice Cave hike is 3.5 miles long (backcountry) and the park usually organizes hikes throughout the colder months, complete with local coffee and pastries.
Of course, we can’t talk about Clear Creek Metro Park and not mention the amazing geologic feature that is Leaning Lena. Hanging over Clear Creek Road, this massive split rock goes by many names and has many legends associated with it.
Known also as Leaning Rock and Witches Rock, local legend says that witches come to the area to perform rituals. Rumor has it that if you see sticks propped up against Leaning Lena, you should be careful not to remove them, as doing so could leave you cursed!
I don’t know about the urban legend aspect of the rock, but I do know that it’s seriously massive, impressive, and one of my favorite spots in the entire park.
When you live in Downtown Columbus, it’s easy to feel disconnected from nature. The Metro Parks system offers parks that are much closer to Columbus, but they don’t all quite capture the magic of Clear Creek. It’s cinematically beautiful. Like if Westeros, Middle Earth, and Narnia all had a baby and dropped it here in southeastern Ohio.
So whether you’re looking for the perfect day trip, or just a stunning location for your fan-made Game of Thrones prequel, you need to check out Clear Creek Metro Park!