Prairie Oaks Doggie Beach in Columbus

Golden doodle dog standing on a dock with water in the background.

As you may have realized by now, I’m a big fan of the Columbus Metro Park system. Prairie Oaks, on the city’s far west side is no exception.

The park at Prairie Oaks has so much to do. You can canoe or kayak, cast a line and catch some fish or even go horseback riding (strictly BYOH or bring your own horse). But I love Prairie Oaks for one reason: it’s a super dog friendly park.

Dog-Friendly Prairie Oaks

If it’s hiking you’re looking for, you and your furry friend are welcome (on-leash of course) on six of the park’s eight hiking trails. The dog-friendly trails range in length from 0.6 miles up to 2.2 miles. Many of the trails are rated as easy walking trails, but a few are rated moderate to difficult. So there’s a trail to fit the physical abilities of you and your dog.

A german shepherd with a blue ball in his mouth stands in the water at Prairie Oaks doggie beach in Columbus
Pumpkin’s best friend Frankie is an excellent swimmer. Make sure you bring a ball or something to fetch.

But the real star of the show is Prairie Oak’s dog beach. That’s right. Prairie Oaks has a special beach just for your best friend.

Prairie Oaks Doggie Beach

The Doggie Beach is in the Darby Bend Lakes area and the parking lot is about a quarter of a mile from the play area. There are two seating areas that consist of a bench each with a shade structure overhead.

A golden doodle dog jumps off the dock into the water at a doggie beach in Columbus, Ohio
Pumpkin is not a champion dock-driver, but her certainly loves jumping in for his ball.

The lake itself was once a quarry and the water isn’t cloudy at all. The beach is very gradual and has a gravel bottom. I appreciate that because it keeps me from later loading a muddy pup in my car!

A favorite feature for my dog, Pumpkin, is the dock. He loves running out the dock and jumping off the end. My only concern here is that the dock material is a bit slippery. My daughter visited earlier this year and noted they have installed a slip-proof covering on the dock to make for better traction.

A german shepherd enters the water at a doggie beach in Columbus, Ohio.
As Frankie illustrates, the beach is covered with small gravel which extends into the water. This keeps us from having muddy pups!

Make sure you know you’re dog and how he’ll behave around other dogs. I’ve gone during the middle of the day on a Saturday and it has been quite crowded. Though Pumpkin usually gets along well with other dogs, he is usually quite distracted by the crowds and doesn’t get as much enjoyment out of his playtime.

Instead, we try to go early in the morning through the week. My daughter is a school teacher, so this schedule works well for her as well. At least once a week during the summer, we try to take Pumpkin and her dog, Frankie, to get some swim time in at the Doggie Beach. By the end of last summer they recognized when we were getting close and were very excited!

Planning for Your Day at the Doggie Beach

If you’re going to make the trip, be sure to plan ahead. You’ll want to take a ball or another toy with you. It should be one that your dog can easily see in the water. And don’t bring their favorite ball! There may be other dogs and they may make off with the toy!

On the left a golden doodle dog swims in the water and on the right he jumps off a dock with his friend, a german shepherd at Prairie Oaks doggie beach.
Pumpkin, on the left, doesn’t look as good wet as Frankie does!

Make sure you also bring along several towels for your trip. We usually find two large beach towels to be about right. It doesn’t get him bone dry, but it takes off enough of the water for the car ride home.

WAG! Dog Festival

If you’re looking for some real dog days this summer, you’ll want to check out WAG! Dog Festival. It happens every August at the Doggie Beach.

A golden doodle dog in silhouette jumps off a dock into the water at Prairie Oaks doggie beach
Make sure to keep an eye on your dog and his energy level. No matter how tired he gets, Pumpkin would continue jumping off the dock. We make sure to limit him to about an hour. I don’t want to have to swim out and get him!

In addition to lots of people (and lots of dogs!), you’ll find all sorts of pup related vendors at WAG. You’ll find vendors representing dog products and services, like veterinarians, pet photographers, training services, doggie day care and more. The festival also helps local rescue groups to reach hundreds of potential donors and potential new families each year.

Getting to the Doggie Beach

Though Prairie Oaks is a Columbus Metro Park, it’s actually in West Jefferson, Ohio. The drive is about 20 minutes west of Columbus, so check the website for directions and plan accordingly.


Thank you for FindingOhio with us today. We’re always looking for fun in Ohio and beyond and always looking for something fun to do with our dog, Pumpkin.

Wild flowers, purple on the left and white on the right, grow against a vivid blue sky.
There are plenty of wildflowers, geese, ducks and more to see at the park as well.

If you’re looking for some great ways to spend the summer with your best friend, check out some of our dog friendly ideas. We spent one day with Pumpkin on a walking tour of The Ohio State University, which is a very dog friendly campus. Later we rented a boat and he spent a day on the lake with us at Pleasant Hill Lake. We hiked the Hocking Hills with him in tow. And we even dined with him at BrewDog in Canal Winchester.

Check back often, as we’re publishing new articles at least once a week and you know some of those adventures will include Pumpkin! And, as always, we appreciate you sharing our content to your social media. We want to let everyone how awesome Ohio is for both humans and dogs!