Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park1775 Darby Creek Dr
Columbus, OH 43119
614-370-6254 | https://www.metroparks.net/parks-and-trails/battelle-darby-creek/
Battelle Darby Creek
Battelle Darby Creek is an excellent place to explore the natural history of Ohio. Stop by the visitor center to learn about the species that inhabited the area or walk through flowering prairies and see the wildlife first hand.
Battelle Darby Creek is made up of over 7,000 acres of forest, prairies, and wetlands. The park is situated within the Darby watershed and contains roughly 35 miles of the Big and Little Darby Creeks. Buffalo roam portions of the tall grass prairie which contain an array of rare plant and animal life. Seventeen unique trails traverse woodlands, grasslands and creeks. With diverse habitats and numerous waterways, Battelle Darby Creek is an excellent place to explore the natural history of Ohio.
Prior to extensive European settlement in the 1800s, roughly a thousand miles of prairie covered western Ohio. The park is located in what was once the great Darby Plains, a vast expanse of prairie lands which ran roughly from Marysville in the north to Washington Court House in the south. Accustomed to clearing forested areas, early European settlers initially saw the prairies as wastelands but quickly learned that prairie, once cleared, became prime farmland. Over the years, Ohio lost 99% of its prairies to human activity. The Metro Parks began reversing this trend when it started purchasing farmland to create Battelle Darby Creek in the 1950s. Portions of John Galbreath’s Darby Dan Farm, which produced two Kentucky Derby winners, have also been incorporated into the park in recent years.
The first prairie restoration dates to 1976 and continues today. Due to the significant loss of prairie habitats across the state, park staff collected original seeds from the remnants of old prairies along the undeveloped edges of farm fields and near railways. Today, 1,800 acres have been restored, and threatened prairie flowers like Ashy Sunflower and Royal Catchfly have returned. Bison were re-introduced to the park in 2011. Native to Ohio’s prairies, the Bison create pathways through the tall, dense grasses for grassland birds and other mammals.
Beyond the restored forests and prairies, the park’s stunning Nature Center and Natural Play Area are also worth a visit. The Nature Center’s interactive space contains its own living stream, two classrooms, and exhibits highlighting the history of the region. The Natural Play Area is a space where children can let loose and play in the forest and creeks.
Notes for Travelers
The Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park accommodates numerous outdoor activities. Fishing is permitted at designated locations throughout the park. The park also has dog swimming areas and canoe accesses. Hunting is permitted in a designated hunting area located well away from the park’s pedestrian and cycling trails.