Slate Run, Three Creeks, Walnut Woods & Glacier Ridge

July 27th: This morning I made my way over to Canal Winchester to visit Slate Run & Slate Run Historical Farm. Slate Run features a variety of habitats ranging from the open areas of grasslands, wetlands and meadows to the forested areas of beech, oak, hickory and sugar maple. Wildlife viewing opportunities abound at the 1,705-acre park. Sandhill cranes have nested in the 156-acre wetland and the northern bobwhite quail have been reintroduced in the park. Time has been turned back to the 1880s at Slate Run Living Historical Farm where you can experience first-hand what life was like on an Ohio farm. As you stroll through the gardens, barns and farmhouse, you can see the farm costumed staff and volunteers going about their daily chores. Pigs, geese, turkeys, Percheron horses and other heirloom animals can be seen. I was super excited to visit the farm so I made this my first stop, but then I stumbled across the sign that said “closed on Mondays!” GAH! I wish I would have noticed that on the website this morning. I’ll have to make a return visit in order to experience the farm. Instead I headed over to the 1.4 mile Sugar Maple trail that crosses Slate Run Creek and features several steep hills. According the the website, Buzzard’s Roost Lake area is closed for most of the summer for a major resource management project. Little did I know that there would also be work taking place on the Sugar Maple trail as well for all of the fallen trees. The trail became a dangerous obstacle course at several points will fallen trees with vicious blood sucking mosquitos trailing me the entire time.

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July 28th: This morning I headed over to Three Creeks Park for a walk. Three Creeks is named for the confluence where Alum, Big Walnut and Blacklick creeks join. Owls, great blue herons and more than 100 species of birds have been sighted. Visitors may catch a glimpse of beaver, mink, coyote and deer. The 1,100-acre park is a partnership with the City of Columbus Recreation and Parks Department. When riding on the Alum Creek Trail, we’ve traveled to Three Creeks Park before, but I’ve never made an effort to drive over specifically to visit the park and probably won’t for a while. Out of all of the Columbus Metro Parks, this one needs the most TLC. The trails aren’t marked at all, making it the least user friendly of the parks. My hope was to visit Sycamore Fields and Smith Farm Trails, but when I drove to that park of the park, they had the parking area closed off for renovations. (Note to self: stop trying to visit farms this week. :/) I drove back over to the other part of the park to walk the Bluebell Trail and started getting a huge stomach ache. Lets just say that this park doesn’t have a nature center, the porta potties were locked and I was not about to realize my greatest fear. (Brooke, you know what I’m talking about!) I gave up and headed home. I’m a little behind on my social media skills, but I believe those of you using Twitter would tweet #galswithgoalsfail. Here’s a little video of the farm that I didn’t get to visit.

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July 29th: This morning I decided to ride the bike trails at Walnut Woods. Walnut Woods features 1,112 acres of woodlands and fields, bordered by Walnut Creek to the north. The Tall Pines Area features dramatic stands of pines and sweetgum trees, and the Buckeye Area has long rows of old nursery trees such as serviceberry, crab apple and red maples. The park also features restored wetlands and vernal pools. I rode the Buckeye Trail and a little bit of the Monarch Trail. This park is really nice! It features newly paved paths, well maintained surroundings and spectacular views of fields full of wildflowers. There were moments where I felt like I was back in Austria riding the bike trails in Eisenstadt.

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July 30th: This morning Diane and I headed back over to Walnut Woods to walk the Kestrel Trail and the Monarch Trail. The Kestrel Trail featured restored wetlands full of wildflower alongside the grass trail. While walking we realized we were surrounded by small frogs and toads that were hopping out of our way. This Northern Leopard frog was kind enough to pose for a pic! 😉 We did a little bird watching on our way to the pond.

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July 31st: To conclude my July goal, I visited Glacier Ridge Metro Park for a bike ride of the multi-purpose trail, which truly turned into a grand finale of sorts. Glacier Ridge was named for the end moraine or glacial debris left behind when the glaciers retreated some 12,000 to 17,000 years ago. Much of the 1,037-acre park was once covered with farmland. Visitors can traverse a boardwalk through the Honda Wetlands Area or climb a 25-foot observation tower to see waterfowl and other animals. The second I started my ride of the Marsh Hawk Trail a large doe jumped out about 7 feet in front of me! We were both startled and froze in our tracks for a second, but then she ran across the path and headed into the forest and tall grasses. I quickly ripped my phone out of my camelback in hopes of spotting her again for a picture, but couldn’t find her. I just happened to glance over to my right to catch a glimpse of an old rusty truck tucked away in the forest. I don’t know car models but would guess it dates from the ’40s. I was hoping to pass a park ranger to ask if they even knew it was there. After returning to the ride through this wooded area the trail opened up to a field where I approached a deer family grazing. I stopped long enough to take a quick pic and then left them to their breakfast.

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I can’t thank Mother Nature enough for the amazing weather we had this month. This goal would’ve been much more difficult with rain, and I wouldn’t have been able to visit nearly every single Columbus Metro Park this month! I challenge you, Gals With Goals readers, to enjoy this beautiful weather while it lasts, take a moment out of your busy lives, get outside and enjoy the beautiful, natural treasures around Columbus. Regardless of where you live in the city, you have a Columbus Metro Park in arms reach. Enjoy it!