Highbanks Metro Park is the most visited Metro Park in the Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks system, attracting around one million visitors annually. Highbanks has unique natural features and an extensive and diverse network of trails that take you through these features. The park covers an area of 1,200 acres.
Visit Highbanks Metro Park
Highbanks Metro Park is named for its 100-foot high shale bluff that towers over the Olentangy State Scenic River. At Highbanks, you will find ravines, meadows, dense forests, and Indian burial mounds. The trails will take you to the top of the bluff where you are treated to the most amazing views.
The bluffs at Highbanks Metro Park are made up of limestone, Ohio black shale as well as Olentangy shale. The observation deck on top of the high bluff was used by natives to keep lookout.
Highbanks Metro Park contains a nature center, a sledding hill, a natural play area as well as the Edward F Hutchins State Nature Preserve.
Two of the earthworks - Highbanks Metropolitan Park Mounds I and II - and the Highbank Park Works are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Edward F. Hutchins Nature Preserve - Highbanks Metro Park
This nature preserve covers an area of 206 acres. It is situated on the 100-foot-high bluffs, overlooking the Olentangy State Scenic River. The woodland areas contain a mixture of older and younger trees, predominantly oak, maple, and hickory.
This preserve also offers plant lovers a huge variety, with 45 tree, 22 shrub, and 144 herbaceous species. One of the Highbanks Metro Park's Indian mounds is to be found here.
Natural Features in Highbanks Metro Parks
Highbanks is home to a pair of Bald Eagles that have hatched eaglets since 2010. There are also two large sycamores, reportedly 500 years old, and with a circumference of 23-24 feet.
The deep ravines in Highbanks Metro Parks are thought to be 10,000 years old and have been carved by glacial meltwater.
One of the unique geological features at Highbanks Metro Park is concretions. Concretions are formed by mineral cement in spaces between rocks or soil. They are usually spherical and sometimes have a fossil inside.
Basically, there has to be something inside them, this could be a leaf, a tooth, a piece of shell, etc. Whatever is inside a concretion is what encourages the concretion to form around it.
In the 1980s, an eroding concretion in Highbanks Metro Park split in half. Inside was the jawbone of a Dinichthys - a prehistoric fish. This discovery is on display at the nature center.
Wading in The River
When you visit Highbanks Metro Park, be sure to take your rainboots, as there are opportunities to walk or go creeking in the water. If you are near loose shale stones, you can skim them across the water - this is great fun for kids and adults alike!
Trails at Highbanks Metro Park
There are nine trails at Highbanks Metro Park, ranging from easy to moderate/difficult. Pets and bikes are welcome on some trails, and a couple of the trails are also wheelchair and stroller friendly.
Big Meadows Path
1-mile | Easy | Hike | Bike | Pets | Paved
This is an easy loop trail that is just over a mile long. It goes through meadows and playfields. Pets and bikes are both welcome on this trail. Expect this walk to take around 30 minutes.
2.5-miles | Moderate to Difficult | Hike | Gravel
The Dripping Rock trail is a loop trail that goes through a forest and passes steep ravines. Along the trail there are two further loops that you can take - if you do, your hike will be 3.8 miles long. Pets and bikes are not permitted on this trail. You can expect your walk to take nearly two hours if you include the two extra loops.
1.3-miles | Easy | Hike | Bike | Pets | Paved
This is an easy one-way trail that is a little more than a mile long and goes through woods and fields. Pets and bikes are welcome on this trail. Expect this hike to take around 40 minutes.
2.3-miles | Moderate to Difficult | Hike | Gravel
The Overlook trail is an out-and-back trail that is 2.3 miles long and goes through the Edward F. Hutchins Nature Preserve and to the observation deck on the 100-foot bluff. Pets and bikes are not permitted on this trail. You can expect this hike to take around one hour.
0.9-miles | Easy | Hike | Jog | Gravel
This is a loop trail that starts from the parking lot at the River Bluff area, and winds through a forest of sycamore, buckeye, and cottonwood, there is a stretch of this trail that runs alongside the river. This trail is also wheelchair and stroller friendly.
3.5-miles | Moderate | Hike | Pets | Cross-Country Ski | Grass and Dirt
The Coyote Run is an out-and-back trail that is 3.5 miles long and goes through woods and fields. The start point is at the Nature Center. The trail has two main loops and one small loop. Pets are welcome on this trail, but please note that the Coyote Run trail is in use for cross-country skiing in the winter months when conditions are suitable. This hike will take around 1 hour and 45 minutes.
Oak Coves Path
0.4-miles | Easy | Hike | Bike | Pets | Paved
An easy, short hike, this trail passes through meadows and playing fields. Pets and bikes are welcome on this trail. You can expect this hike to take around 15 minutes.
0.6-miles | Easy | Hike | Pets | Gravel
As the name suggests, this short trail runs alongside the river and through some forest. Dogs are welcome and this trail is also wheelchair and stroller friendly.
0.4-miles | Easy to Moderate | Hike | Grass and Dirt
The Wetland Spur trail is a one-way trail that is just short of half a mile long, and it goes through woodland to a wetland with an observation deck. This walk will take around 15 minutes.
A map of the park and trails is available to download/print.
Facilities Highbanks Metro Park
There are both reservable and non-reservable shelters available:
There are three reservable shelters here:
Mansion holds 100 people and has one grill with an outdoor kitchenette. There is a sink, electricity, a stone fireplace, a drinking fountain, an outdoor firepit and there is also a play area.
Northern holds 120 people and has two grills, electricity, a stone fireplace as well as a wood-burning stove. There is a sink as well as a small counter, an outdoor fire pit, and a brick patio. Playground equipment, large playfield, volleyball posts, and net.
Nature Center Multipurpose Room is a meeting room with a maximum capacity of 99. ADA accessible.
There are two areas of the park that contain 11 non-reservable shelters.
Oak Coves Picnic Area has picnic tables, grills, large playfields, and playground equipment. There are two shelters, each seating 64 people. ADA accessible.
Big Meadows Picnic Area offers 7 small shelters seating 16 each, and 2 open shelters seating 64 each. They have grills, large playfields, playground equipment, and are ADA accessible.
Activities at Highbanks Metro Park
- Day Camps
- Natural Play Area
- Nature Center
Highbanks Metro Park offers seasonal activities and programs. Visit their website to see if anything is happening when you plan to visit.
Where is Highbanks Metro Park Located?
There are three entrances to Highbanks Metro Park, depending on what you want to do during your visit.
Highbanks Metro Park Main Entrance:
9466 Columbus Pike (US Rt 23 N), Lewis Center, OH 43035
Dragonfly Day Camp Entrance:
685 W. Powell Road, Lewis Center, OH 43035
River Bluff Area Entrance:
8400 Olentangy River Road, Columbus, OH 43235
Phone: 614-906-3149 | Website | Facebook
Let's Visit Highbanks Metro Park
Have you visited Highbanks Metro Park? Or any of the other Metro Parks in the area? We'd love to hear about your experiences! Leave us a comment below.
Central Ohio has so many things to do, Lancaster in Fairfield County is known as the gateway to the Hocking Hills area and is known for its glass industry. Check out our Things To Do In Lancaster Ohio article. In the winter months, you may choose to visit Highbanks for sledding. There are many sledding hills all over Ohio, so there is probably one or more near you!
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