Best (Trail) Running in Central Ohio
My Favorite Running Spots
1. Highbanks Metro Park
When the Pokémon people are not around the park is still fairly busy. The trails are wide and covered with course sand and very well groomed. Between the Dripping Rock, Overlook, and the River loops and their associated branches it is about 6.5 miles. The dog walk trails are flat but less crowded and add another 3+ miles.
2. Battelle-Darby Creek Metro Park
Very lightly used. Trails similar to Highbanks. The main loop from the Cedar area to the Indian area including the Terrace Trail and the Ancient trail is about 6 miles. A few large hills. One on the Terrace trail and one coming back to the parking lot up the Cobshell hills. Add the Little Darby trail and get 3 more miles. For EXTRA VALUE add the Buffalo trails out to the old horse track (run a few furlongs) and back for an additional 8.5 miles. I’ve done all of it in a morning and it is a terrific run.
3. Slate Run Metro Park
Slate run is less used then either Highbanks or Darby. There is a small set of trails in the woods and a larger set in open meadows around some pounds (watch out for the geese). About 8 miles if you do both. Hills are mild. Nice change of pace.
4. Clear Creek Metro Park
Clear creek is one of my favorites. Hardly used. Decent hills with some wide paths and some single trace trails. The Hill up to Cemetery Ridge is a bear. I usually park at the Fern parking area and run up the fern trail and back down the Hemlock trail. I take the Creekside trail to the Hill up to Cemetery Ridge. Then across the Cemetery Ridge Trail to the Chestnut trail. Once across the Chestnut Trail I run the Tulip and the lake trails then back across the Chestnut trail and down the Fern Trail to my car. That loop is about 13 miles with 1900 feet of elevation change. I call it a decent workout.
5. Alum Creek Multipurpose Trail
Nice change of pace. Muddy in the spring. Can be a little “buggy”. Ticks are around in the spring. Footing is not great and sometimes the grass is high. Flat trail. 5.7 miles around the main trail. There are 2 shortcuts – One 0.75 miles and the other 4 miles.
6. Alum Creek Horseback Trails (off of Howard Road)
a. Hunter’s Hollow
Starting off of Howard Road on the East side of the reservoir heading South. It is nice single track trail with many ravines.
b. Winterhawk Trail Loop
Beginning across Howard Road from the Hunter’s hollow loop and heading North. It crosses Hogback road at about 3.5 miles and crosses Alum Creek at the town of Kilborne at mile 7. The trail continues on the west side and is much straighter – only 5 miles back to the Horseman’s Camp at Howard Road. Total length is about 12 miles. There are some boggy portions throughout the loop but most especially on the Hogback to Kilbourne section. Some pretty view of ravines and the river / reservoir.
c. Maple Glen (Tunnel Trail)
Beginning across Howard Road from the Horseman’s Camp and extending south for about 2+ miles and then through the tunnel under routes 36/37. The single track trail continues until mile 5.5 where it meets a 3 mile loop at the “Either Way” sign.
7. Rocks and Roots Trail
At the west side of the reservoir off of Hollenback Road next to the marina and the dog park. About 12 + miles of mostly single track trails. No real hills but nice views of the reservoir.
8. Prairie Oaks Metro Park
Just west of Columbus and Route 270 off of Route 70 at Route 42. Turn left to get to Battelle Darby Creek and right to get to Prairie Oaks. A minimally used park, with a lot going for it. About 8 ¼ miles of nice trails to run. From the Coneflower Loops to the Alder Trail and the Tall Grass Trail leading to the Rocky River Trail. Finally a 2 mile loop around manmade lakes finishing a levy between the lakes and the Big Darby Creek. Wet / Muddy in the spring but nice the rest of the year.