As Ohioans, we are blessed with an amazing array of outdoor recreational activities. In addition to our 83 beautiful state parks and countless local parks, our major cities are host to a diverse group of metro parks systems. Over the years I’ve explored many, and I still have many to go.
Finding a Park
A few days ago, itching to get outside, my daughter and I took our pup to one of the Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks. We started our search for a park online at metroparks.net. There you can find a park based on activities, location, programs, trail length and pet friendliness. Anxious to take our dog, Pumpkin, on a walk we looked for a park that would welcome our four-legged friend.
Pet Friendly Parks
Most of the parks have some type of pet trail where dogs are welcome to walk on-leash. There are seven that include fenced dog parks for your dog to run off some extra energy and three that offer dog swimming areas during warmer weather. The Metro Parks has a page set up specifically for our canine companions, you can find it by clicking over to Pet Programs.
Walnut Woods Metro Park
We settled on Walnut Woods Metro Park in the southeast quadrant of Franklin County, in Groveport. Walnut Woods is the newest park in the system and we had never been. We chose the Buckeye Trail because it was dog friendly and in close proximity to the dog park. It was an easy two mile walk along a paved trail and started just off the parking lot.
The area had a past life as a nursery and, in looking just off the trail, you can see stands of nursery trees planted on a grid. The trail winds alongside Walnut Creek, where we saw and heard a number of birds. They all seemed to stay just out of range for a good picture, though Pumpkin might have had something to do with that.
In addition to hiking and the dog park, the park is host to a number of other activities. Three of the trails double as bike paths and we did see some bikers out enjoying the weather.
Additionally, Big Walnut Creek offers visitors the opportunity to enjoy canoeing, kayaking and fishing. And in the winter months, there’s a small hill in the Buckeye area that is just the right size for younger children to enjoy sledding.
After our hike we headed over to the dog park. There are actually two parks, one for over and one for under 20 pounds. The over 20 pound park included a pond swimming area, though it was closed during our visit. The weather is still just a bit cool.
I’ve included a picture of the park for smaller dogs, taken as we headed to the over 20 pound park. There was plenty of space for our dog to run and a number of agility features, none of which interested Pumpkin in the least. He seemed content to run back and forth with a small group of dogs. Together they ran both everywhere and nowhere quickly until they all lay panting, ready for a drink.
The good thing, I’ve found, about the dog park is that he really tires himself out. This makes it both easy to convince him to leave the park and gives us an evening of peace without his usual puppy hijinks.
Both the over and under 20 pound parks offer a small shelter area and several picnic tables for owners. Walnut Woods has additionally provided water bowls and some toys to fetch in case there are no other dog friends available during your visit.
Next time I think we will try the Sweetgum Trail. I’ve seen some pictures of the tall pines area and it looks like a nice hike. It’s 2.6 miles, so a bit longer but still pet friendly. According to the website the hiking surface is both gravel and paved and it is also designated as a bike trail.
That’s my quick review of Walnut Woods Metro Park. I love the outdoors and the park systems in our great state, so look for more articles. For more reviews, head over to Ohio Parks.
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