Glacier Ridge Metro Park
A Fun Place To Play And Explore Nature
Columbus has lots of great choices when it comes to parks. Today, we explore Glacier Ridge Metro Park in Plain City, just outside of Columbus. The park offers various trails, wetlands, prairies, woods, playgrounds, picnic areas, and much more!
Glacier Ridge Metro Park
Glacier Ridge Metro Park is managed by Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks. The park covers over 1,000 acres and was named after a glacier’s end moraine, or terminal moraine, a ridge-like accumulation of glacial debris pushed forward by a glacier’s leading edge.
I first learned about the park when I ran through parts of it during the Emerald City Half Marathon several years ago. The race course ran through prairies, woods, and wetlands. The park is very scenic, especially through the wetlands portion at the park’s South end. Heavy tree cover in the wooded portion is a welcome relief from the heat during the Summer.
As one of the area’s largest parks, there is plenty to do and explore.
Before its establishment in September 2002, the park covered mostly farmland. Now, it is home to various plants, animals, and waterfowl.
Main Entrance Activities
Glacier Ridge has two main sections. The main entrance is on the park’s North Side at 9801 Hyland Croy, Plain City, OH 43064. As you drive into the main entrance, a long drive passes through open prairies. Parking areas are towards the back of the park.
Wind and Solar Education Area
On your right side, as you drive towards the back of the park, there is a small parking lot with a giant windmill and a few solar panels. This is the wind and solar education area. You can stop here to read more about wind and solar energy or continue another several hundred meters to the main parking areas and trail access.
Playgrounds and Ninja Kid Course
Glacier Ridge has one of the coolest playgrounds in town, consisting of climbing structures, climbing ropes, zip lines, rope hammock, climbing walls, platforms, and towers. Locals often refer to it as the Ninja Course.
If you have small kids, they will love it! It is located right at the main parking areas between the restrooms and the dog park.
Glacier Ridge has a 3-acre obstacle course for those who want to practice for an obstacle race, like Warrior Dash, or use the obstacles to test their fitness and strength. Most obstacles are not too challenging, but many require good upper-body strength and mobility. You can climb over logs and obstacles, crawl through tunnels, and various rope systems.
The course can get quite muddy after a good rainstorm, so keep that in mind if it has rained recently.
A large dog park is just off to the left of the main parking area and adjacent to the Ninja Kid Playground. Here, you and your dog can run freely inside a 2-1/2 acre fenced-in area and explore open grass areas with agility obstacles or a small wooded area.
There is a drinking fountain and poop bags in case you need them.
Tip: The dog park can get quite busy during popular times, so it may be overwhelming for dogs who struggle with anxiety or who do not play well with other dogs.
Dogs are also welcome on many of the other trails throughout the park. Just follow the signs at each trail entrance.
TIP: Ensure your dog is protected with tick prevention medication because the entire park is an ideal environment for ticks to thrive. I have never had issues with my dog, but signs in the park ask dog owners to check their dogs for ticks.
Education Center Entrance
My favorite part of the park is on the South end of the park, at the first entrance as you head north on Hyland Croy Road. This area is very scenic and has decked surfaces as you walk through a wetland and check out the views from the observation tower.
Honda Wetland Education Center
7825 Hyland Croy, Plain City, OH 43064
Glacier Ridge Metro Park Map
Glacier Ridge has trails for all types of visitors. You can often see hikers, runners, cyclists, dog walkers, and even those on horseback (Savannah Trail only).
The Ironweed Trail is a 2.8-mile one-way route that traverses woods and fields, leading directly to the Honda Wetland Education Center. Both biking and dog walking are permitted on this trail.
Marsh Hawk Trail
Covering 4.3 miles, the Marsh Hawk Trail is a loop that goes around the park, passing through woods and fields.
The trailhead is accessible from the parking area in the North side of the park. It accommodates both bikers and dogs.
Here are a couple of pictures from a recent walk with my dog. These were taken from the South and Southeast sections of the loop. The North and Northeast sides of the loop are open prairie (not shown):
Red Oak Trail
The Red Oak Trail is a straightforward 0.9-mile dirt path that goes through an old forest, providing a quick nature experience.
At 5.5 miles, the Savannah Trail is a mixed dirt and grass loop that winds through woods and fields. The trail is open for cross-country skiing when conditions allow.
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