Are you making the most of Delaware’s amazing parks?

Here in Lewis Center, in the southern part of Delaware County, we are literally surrounded by beautiful parks and nature preserves.

We’ve honestly got the best of both worlds when it comes to places to hike and enjoy the outdoors.

We can head south to make use of the fantastic Columbus and Franklin County parks, like Highbanks Metro Park or Inniswood Metro Gardens.

And to the north, we can avail ourselves of the incredible Preservation Parks of Delaware County.

If you’re not as familiar with the Preservation Parks, you’re not alone. There are currently 11 beautiful parks in the system – with future parks also in the works – yet many residents use only a handful of them.

Is it time to explore some new parks in 2023?

Following is the list of all Preservation Parks with enough information on each to hopefully convince you to visit them all this year. One of the things our family loves best about Delaware’s parks system is that they truly allow you to get away and immerse yourself in nature.

  • Blues Creek Park is located at 9627 Fontanelle Road in Ostrander. Blues Creek features 138 acres of prairies, forested areas and wetlands; it is named for the creek that meanders along the park’s northern edge. There are 2.5 miles of trails and leashed dogs are welcome. The park also features a catch-and-release pond where visitors can fish with no permits required. There’s a hill at the center of the park that can be used for sledding during the winter season.
  • Char-Mar Ridge Park is located at 7741 Lewis Center Road in Westerville. This has been a favorite dog-walking spot for us for years. The trail is a perfect circle and meanders up, across and back down a ravine with wooden bridges, a creek and a bird blind for secret bird-watching missions. There’s also a natural play area. We love Char-Mar in all seasons and so will you.
  • Deer Haven Park is located at 4183 Liberty Road in Delaware. Hubby and I once spent a summer date night here and it was utterly magical. It has prairies, forests, a deep glen and a trail that leads to a poetry garden. The nature center and aviary have critters on exhibit, like turtles, birds of prey and more. It’s well worth a visit!
  • Emily Traphagen Park is located at 5094 Seldom Seen Road in Powell. It features 100 acres of tall trees, wetlands, pond and meadows. Thanks to the nearby Scioto River, the park attracts waterfowl such as mallards, kingfishers, wood ducks and great blue herons. The boardwalks and natural play area make this a great park to visit with kids. Leashed-dogs are welcome on the paths and trails.
  • Gallant Farm is located at 2150 Buttermilk Hill Road in Delaware. Although it has been open for ten years, I only just visited Gallant Farm this past summer. You absolutely need to go. This working farm and vintage farmhouse are so worth a visit – as are the adorable farm animals. No dogs are allowed here as it could be upsetting to the four-legged residents.
  • Gallant Woods Park is located at 2151 Buttermilk Hill Road in Delaware, directly across from Gallant Farm. It features old-growth woods, meadows, restored prairies and wetlands, and wetland woods, making it the perfect spot for salamander hunting after rain. Leashed dogs are welcome on the trails. A mindfulness walk, located along the Pheasant Run Trail, is intended to provide calm and peace to visitors.
  • Hickory Woods Park is located at 1271 Pollock Road in Delaware. One of the newer parks in Delaware County, Hickory Woods features 115 acres of former farmland now reforested and transformed into wetlands and prairies. Hickory Woods has several trails, a catch-and-release pond and a sledding hill. Leashed dogs are permitted on both gravel and primitive trail surfaces.
  • Hogback Ridge Park is located at 2656 Hogback Road in Sunbury. This wooded, 41-acre park includes trails that wind through a ravine system with hardwood and pine trees, and a bridge spanning a scenic ravine. Whitetail deer, wild turkeys and many other species of birds – including pileated woodpeckers – make their home in the park. The nature center on-site features a bird-watching room for year-round use.
  • River Run Park is located at 168 Main Road in Delaware. This 14-acre stretch along the Olentangy River allows kayakers and canoers to enter the river for a 6-mile float to Mingo Park in downtown Delaware. Starting here at River Run, just downstream of the Delaware Dam, the river features a mix of deep pools, riffles, runs and short rapids bordered by scenic shale cliffs. Paddlers might see bald eagles, great blue herons and a variety of other wildlife. Watch for interesting geologic features, including concretions and layers of shale.
  • Shale Hollow Park is located at 6320 Artesian Run in Lewis Center. It’s the park closest to us and also our favorite due to the gorgeous creek, shale walls and natural play area. Shale Hollow is located in the heart of Lewis Center but also feels like a world away because it is set back in a tree-lined ravine. We love walking our dogs here along the paths and also took a natural wreath-making class here around Thanksgiving.
  • Sycamore Run Park is located at 7341 Olentangy River Road in Delaware and is another launching point for kayaks and canoes. When river conditions are right, paddlers can put into the Olentangy River here for a 3-mile float to Highbanks Metro Park. During a trip down the river, paddlers might see bald eagles, great blue herons and a variety of other wildlife. Watch for interesting geologic features, including concretions and layers of shale.

Whether your favorite way to enjoy parks and recreation is by land or via river, the Preservation Parks have something for everyone.

Won’t you make it your goal to visit a new park – or all of them – this year? I know I plan to!

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About the author

Proud and loving midlife mama. Lucky and devoted wife. Dog, cat and snake mom. Travel nut. Natural born writer. PR and social media pro by day - tattoo doula by night.
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