Tom and I met our friends Pete and Cathy Hahn at Prairie Oaks Metro Park on a beautiful evening toward the end of May. We last saw them about a year ago before we went to North Dakota. Pete is a former Dean at Ohio State University who returned to teaching this year. Cathy has been busy babysitting her four very young grandchildren. So we had a lot of catching up to do!
Tom and I had been to Prairie Oaks Metro Park one time before. We walked around a field on what felt like a very hot summer day. It wasn’t a particularly beautiful or interesting walk, so I didn’t write about it at the time. This time we met Pete and Cathy at a picnic shelter in the Darby Bend Lakes Area.
Prairie Oaks Metro Park has over 2,000 acres that run alongside Big Darby Creek, a State and National Scenic River. This section of the Big and Little Darby Creeks is almost 90 miles of scenic river and is among the top streams in biological quality in Ohio and the Midwest. There are over 100 recorded fish and 44 mussel species, including 37 species of fish and mussels that are endangered or otherwise rare. Several other fish species found in the streams are declining in numbers throughout Ohio.
Water quality is excellent, with the creeks being classified as “Exceptional Warmwater Habitat” by the state of Ohio under the Clean Water Act and as “Outstanding State Waters,” the highest level of protection under the state’s anti-degradation policy. Big and Little Darby Creeks have been designated a “Last Great Place” by The Nature Conservancy. As such, the Metro Parks and the Nature Conservancy continue to buy up land as it becomes available along the creeks to add to Prairie Oaks Metro Park.
Prairie Oaks Metro Park is Pete and Cathy’s “home” park, about two miles from their house. They know the park and its trails very well. So, after a picnic supper, we took a three mile hike around the small lakes. We saw the Big Darby Creek and were impressed by how many people were out fishing, kayaking, and hiking on a beautiful summer evening.
We enjoyed out time with Pete and Cathy very much and loved exploring a new area of the Columbus Metro Parks. I am very thankful that Columbus preserves these green spaces even as residential development continues to expand.