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Highbanks Metro Park is one of the most popular parks in Columbus.
Highbanks Metro Park is named for its impressive, 100-foot-high shale bluff that towers over the Olentangy River. The park features 10 different trails, reservable and non-reservable shelters, and a variety of areas perfect for activities like fishing, biking, canoeing/kayaking, sledding, and more.
Before we dive into all of the best things to do and see while you’re at the most-visited Metro Park, let’s answer some of the most frequently asked questions about the park.
Where is Highbanks Metro Park?
You’ll find Highbanks Metro Park at 9466 Columbus Pike, Lewis Center, OH 43035.
How big is Highbanks Metro Park
The park is huge, offering 1,200 acres to explore nature.
When is the best time of year to visit Highbanks Metro Park?
This is a tough question to answer. The truth is that visiting at different times throughout the year can offer completely unique experiences. In the winter you can enjoy cold-weather hikes and sledding. In the spring, fresh blooms and wildlife burst onto the scene. During the summer, you can enjoy all sorts of outdoor activities like canoeing, bird watching, and more. Of course, a visit in the autumn means that you’ll be completely gobsmacked by the most gorgeous fall foliage.
Is Highbanks Metro Park popular?
Yes! The park is the most-visited Metro Park, welcoming over 1 million visitors per year.
What is the history of Highbanks Metro Park?
The natural beauty that visitors can enjoy at Highbanks Metro Park is the work of millennia. The bluffs that the park is named for were formed a million years ago. The bluffs are made up of limestone, Ohio black shale, and Olentangy shale and the view from the top is a one-of-a-kind vista in Central Ohio.
Now that we’ve answered some of the most burning questions, let’s talk about all of the amazing things you can enjoy while visiting.
Highbanks Metro Park is one of the best places to go birdwatching in Central Ohio. From woodland birds like woodpeckers, Barred Owls, Great Horned Owls, Red-tailed Hawks, and Cooper’s Hawks to nesting birds like Baltimore Orioles, Orchard Orioles, Warbling Vireos, and Yellow-throated Warblers, there is no shortage of impressive wildlife to enjoy. You may even get the chance to see a bald eagle or two, which is arguably one of the most exciting birds to see in the wild.
Visit the Adena Burial Mound
Dating back to 700 b.c.e., this ancient burial ground is quiet and peaceful. The area had a rich history long before earlier colonizers and settlers moved to the region, and that’s evident when you see this ancient earthwork.
Hike the Overlook Trail
You can’t visit Highbanks Metro Park without taking a stroll along the Overlook Trail. The trail also features some ancient earthworks (an early irrigation system) but most impressively, it boasts some ridiculous views of the Olentangy river from the top of the bluffs.
Hike the Dripping Rock Trail
Along this moderate trail, you’ll find plenty of picture-perfect opportunities. The real gem of this hike is the bridge that crosses a tributary of the Olentangy. In the autumn, it genuinely looks like it hopped right out of Middle Earth.
Fishing is located along the Olentangy River. You’ll find a small dock area where you can cast your line, but it can get a little crowded on good weather days so be sure to plan accordingly.
Visit the Natural Play Area
The park has a 15-acre area set aside for kids can safely explore. The kids are encouraged to participate in unstructured play, allowing them to focus on old-school activities like climbing trees, playing with dirt and sticks, and gaining an appreciation for nature.
Visit the Nature Center
There’s nowhere better to learn about the history of the park than the Nature Center. There you can get more information about the bluffs themselves and you’ll also have the opportunity to see wildlife up close as they eat from the feeders around the center.
Of course, sledding is a seasonal activity. But if it’s snowed recently, you can take the kids to enjoy two different sledding hills at Highbanks Metro Park. One of the hills is specifically for kids 10 and under so that everyone can have a safe, enjoyable experience.
No matter when you visit Highbanks, you’ll probably be impressed. It’s just that lovely of a park. For more information, or to plan your visit, go to metroparks.net.
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