Afternoon walks have become my favorite routine after a busy day at work, so I decided to stop by Glacier Ridge Metro Park. Enjoying the fresh air and the late day sun breaking through the intermittent clouds of the summer sky, I wandered the Honda Wetland Education Area, sharing the path with a young man and his German Shepherd. I did not venture far along the path when I decided to return back to the education center for a map.
Approaching the center, there is a flock of swallows circling overhead and a mother bird guarding her nest. The map provides a thorough overview of the park and its 1,000 acres, showing an extension past the protected wetlands and documenting several trails throughout the property. Glacier Ridge is one of the newer parks in the Columbus Metro Parks center, opening in 2002. This area was once agricultural land until the park system took an interest in restoring Glacier Ridge to its natural habitat.
Wildflowers flourish along the nearby stretch of land that extends from the nature center, which just happened to be closed during my visit. The fragile blooms push forward through the wild, grassy underbrush. As a result of the parks conservation efforts, there are now several species of plants and animals, 53 of which are birds.
The clouds had begun to break up, providing the perfect moment to explore the observation tower. A lovely addition to the park, I climbed the three stories for a beautiful view of the wetlands and surrounding area. From here I notice larger species of birds such as herons and swear that I can hear bullfrogs in the distance. I find it the perfect location to enjoy a quiet sunset in hopes of seeing a wandering deer appear at dusk, but no such luck.
I decided to return to Glacier Ridge during the winter, excited of what I may find and interested in exploring the park from a different perspective. In addition to strolling the Wetland Education Area, I hiked the Ironweed Trail to explore the north end of the park.
Leaving the wetlands, I passed over a creek where the trail opened up into a large field. There was a clear view with little obstruction from trees and the water seemed to continue to ice over as the temperature continued to drop. Dedicated runners and hikers walking their dogs slipped past me while I took photos. Footprints quickly disappeared with the new fallen snow and the silence would continue until another human came into sight.
After having crossed the bridge, a weathered barn provided the perfect back drop one would see in an Amish painting. Glacier Ridge seems so different in the winter months, so naked and exposed compared to the spring when life begins to flourish with bugs, birds and wild beasts. The crunch of snow under my feet and the swishing of my ski pants are the only constant sounds.
There were no signs of active life, only snow covered shells of vegetation that once thrived in the spring and summer months. The thistles grew fat as the snow broadened their core, creating little snow monsters protecting the prairie. I enjoyed the feeling of the sting of cold on my face and the light touch of snow as it fell from the sky.
The hike would total 5.6 miles round trip, but it was worth the experience to see in the winter. Besides feeling a sense of accomplishment for completing the Ironwood Trail, I was also reminded that parks are not only for the summer, but can be a great way to exercise all year around.
Have you hiked Glacier Ridge Metro Park? When is your favorite time to visit? I would love to hear from you if you would kindly leave a message in the comments section below. Many thanks for reading my blog post about Glacier Ridge Metro Park! Happy Trails!
Make sure you visit Glacier Ridge during their interpretive programs, which cater to all families and individuals of all ages. There are four trails that range from .8 to five miles, cross-country skiing trails and trails for horseback riding. In addition to picnic areas, there is also a wind and solar learning center and disc golf course. Glacier Ridge is located in Plain City at 9801 Hyland Croy Avenue and is open daily from 6:30AM until dark.
You can find more about the Metro Parks System by calling their Headquarters at 614 891 0700 or visiting their website at www.metroparks.net. You can also pick up the Metro Parks magazine, ParkScope, which is published on a quarterly basis.