Prairie Oaks Metro Park

We recently took a road trip to Hillard, OH, just outside Columbus, OH and found the best spot for a hike, Prairie Oaks Metro Park. The park consists of 2291 acres with nearly 500 acres of prairies and grasslands, several deep lakes for fishing and boating, Big Darby Creek, and more than 10 miles of trails. The best part for Sunny and the reason I selected this park, was the off-leash dog beach along one of the lakes.

After parking at the Darby Bend Lakes parking lot we started walking west on the Darby Creek Trail. The trail is packed gravel and winds throughout the park. This section traversed between two lakes and toward the dog beach. We continued walking until we came across the sign indicating the off-leash dog beach. As we left the trail and walked past the sign we saw the beach along the lake and a Great Dane in the water. This was Zane, the Great Dane, who was a gentle giant. Sunny thought he was the biggest dog she had ever seen and had great fun playing with him. A short time later a yellow Labrador named Deuce came running from the trail and straight into the water. The three dogs played and explored the shore and grass. After playing for awhile we headed off to explore the trails.

On the trail to dog beach
Sign for dog beach
Sunny and Zane at dog beach

We continued on the Darby Creek Trail and followed it through the woods to its end on Beach Road. Then we turned around and re-traced our steps until we came across the Mound Trail on the left close to the dog beach. This trail is grass and leads up a hill. It overlooks the lake and eventually turns into a dirt trail that leads back to the Darby Creek Trail. We continued on the trail which led to another lake and Big Darby Creek. We walked onto the bridge that goes over the creek to get a view of the creek and then continued on the Darby Creek Trail. Eventually we found our way back to the grass field adjacent to the parking lot. We hiked just over 3M, but there are many other trails so longer hikes are possible.

on the Darby Creek Trail at Prairie Oak Metro Park
on the Mound Trail at Prairie Oak Metro Park
on the trail
bridge over Darby Creek
resting in the grass at Prairie Oak Metro Park

Our Rating

Sunny and I rate Prairie Oaks Metro Park 4 paws up. This spot has everything – trails to hike, picnic areas, great parking with a restroom, and an off-leash dog beach. You can hike for miles, fish, kayak, and picnic. The trails are packed gravel, grass, and dirt. They are well marked with the name of the trail and trail maps. The trails we explored were relatively flat with views of the lakes and creek. The dog beach isn’t huge, but has plenty of room for the dogs to run, play in the water, and explore the shore. There is also a picnic area to sit and relax. All in all, this park is a perfect place to spend several hours hiking, picnicking, and playing in the water.

How Do I Get There?

There are 5 different entrances to the park – Beaver Lake – 8921 Lucas Road, Darby Creek Boat Ramp – 4275 Amity Road, Darby Bend Lakes – 2755 Amity Road, Prairie Oaks Main Entrance – 3225 Plain City-Georgesville Road, and Sycamore Plains Area – 2009 Amity Road. We parked at the Darby Bend Lakes entrance since that is the closest one to the dog beach. From Scoiti Darby Creek Road turn onto Amity Road. Follow for 2.6M then turn right onto Darby Bend Lakes Park and follow it into the parking lot.

For more information about Prairie Oaks Metro Park check out their website.

Prairie Oaks Metro Park

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