Other walking and hiking resources to enjoy in Central Ohio
Preservation Parks of Delaware County
The Delaware County parks system is young and small, with nine properties, all of which have opened since 2002, totaling 1,420 acres (by comparison, that's about the same acreage as Highbanks Metro Park). But it's growing rapidly on the heels of the passage of a 10-year, 0.6-mill levy in 2008 and the passage of a renewal plus an additional 0.3-mill levy last November that will provide the system about $6.5 million annually. Parks include Blues Creek in Ostrander (138 acres); Char-Mar Ridge in Genoa Township (128 acres); Deer Haven in Liberty Township (97 acres); the Emily Traphagen Preserve in Powell (72 acres); Gallant Farm (a 19-acre working Depression-era farm) and Gallant Woods (231 acres) in Delaware; Hogback Ridge in Sunbury (41 acres); River Run, an Olentangy River put-in for kayakers and canoeists just downstream from the Delaware Dam that allows a 6.5-mile float to Mingo Park; and Shale Hollow in Lewis Center (211 acres). Two new parks are currently in the works on Pollock Road (115 acres) and Bale Kenyon Road in Orange Township (about 300 acres). preservationparks.com
Central Ohio Hiking Club
The club dates back to the 1930s, when it was formed by the local YMCA, and still includes 95-year-old charter member Bob Merkle among its membership of about 80. The Central Ohio Hiking Club generally holds two 4- to 6-mile Saturday hikes each month, as well as an annual banquet, when awards are given to the member with the most club-hiking mileage. Membership fees are $18 per year or $30 per couple. Upcoming hikes include Chestnut Ridge Metro Park June 9, Pickerington Ponds June 16, Ross Hollow June 23 and Scioto Grove Metro Park July 21, with a corn roast at Infirmary Mound Park on Aug. 25 and a Downtown Columbus holiday lights walk on Dec. 22. centralohiohiking.org
LGBT Hiking Club
The Stonewall Columbus-affiliated club typically holds one hike every month, on the third Saturday excepting December, January and June, and includes a canoeing and kayaking outing on the Mohican River in July. Hikes are usually about 3 miles and average 20–30 people per outing. Locations include John Bryan State Park in Yellow Springs in August and the Hocking Hills in September. Membership is free and open to everyone, though an optional $35 contribution to Stonewall Columbus is requested. stonewallcolumbus.org/hiking
The Down Syndrome Association of Central Ohio has four local walking clubs. The Dublin Walking Club gets together at Glacier Ridge Metro Park from 7–8 p.m. on Mondays from June 4 to Aug. 27. The Hilliard Walking Club meets at Homestead Park from 7–8 p.m. on Mondays from from June 4 to Sept. 17. The Westerville Walking Club hikes Highlands Park from 7–8 p.m. on Mondays from June 4 to Aug. 27. And the Upper Arlington Walking Club gathers at Thompson Park from 6–7 p.m. on Thursdays from June 21 to Aug. 30. All hikes are weather-permitting. dsaco.net, 614-263-6020.
The Buckeye Trail is a 1,440-mile loop around the perimeter of Ohio. It's the longest scenic hiking trail in the state. The first 20 miles of the trail were dedicated in Hocking County in 1959. The entire loop was completed in 1980. Dayton resident Andy Niekamp was the first to solo thru-hike the entire Buckeye Trail when he completed the loop in 88 days in 2012. His book, “Captain Blue on the Blue Blazes,” recounts his journey. The title references the blue paint splotches used to mark the trail. buckeyetrail.org.
The Ohio to Erie Trail stretches 326 miles from Cincinnati to Cleveland. Twenty-two local and regional off-road rail trails and greenways come together to form about 280 of OTET's miles, including stretches through Columbus using the Camp Chase, Scioto and Alum Creek trails, as well as sections maintained by the city of Westerville and the Preservation Parks of Delaware County. ohiotoerietrail.org.