Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Prairie Oaks Metro Park

Photos by OHventures

Prairie Oaks Metro Park
3225 Plain City-Georgesville Road
West Jefferson, OH 43162

Prairie Oaks Metro Park located in West Jefferson (just west of Columbus in Madison County) is part a very nice location for hiking, fishing, picnicking, and horseback riding. I went recently for one of the "Winter Hikes" put on by the Central Ohio Metro Parks and I was pleasantly surprised by my great experience (be sure to read up on the OHventures Guide to Winter Hiking if you should choose to go during wintertime)!

The scenery is fantastic here...the lakes make everything look and feel calm and serene, and the trails have great views (none of which involve skyscrapers...you can't complain about that). The path crosses over the Big Darby Creek via a pretty impressive bridge...and the paths wind through open fields and forested areas alike. There is an open area with big rocks perfect for a photo op!

When embarking on a trip to Prairie Oaks, keep in mind that there are a few different entrances to the park, which should not matter on most occasions. However, you won't mistake the main entrance as anything but, as there are three big parking lots and a pavilion to indicate it as the main entrance. By the pavilion there is a fire pit as well, which comes in handy when you are on a "winter hike," be it official or unofficial.

There are long and winding paths for hiking, and some designated specifically for horseback riding. Be sure to really sit and study the maps (see below), however, as the trails can be rather confusing. There are also two big ponds, one of which is specifically for dogs to swim in (or for them to frolic on top of when it is frozen over in the winter).

I took a trip on the Coneflower Trail as well as part of the Sycamore Plains Trail, both of which were nothing but great times. Just be sure to bring the hiking essentials, as well as a group of friends who are willing to get a little cold (if in the winter), or sweat it out (in the summer). The trails are moderately challenging, but overall pretty easy.

Head outside the 270 Loop and get some fresh air at Praire Oaks Metro Park!

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