The Columbus metropolitan area population continues to increase. Websites peg the current population at 1,687,000, and every year the area consistently adds another percentage or two of growth to that total. Because people like parks, it’s nice to know that the Columbus Parks and Recreation Department is working to meet the hiking, biking, and walking path demand of all of those new residents. Yesterday, on a beautiful and surprisingly warm morning, we decided to check out Quarry Trails Metro Park, the newest member of the 20-park Metro Park family. The park is being built on the site of an old limestone quarry, and adjacent to the site of a currently working quarry that you can see in the photo above, just west of the Scioto River on the border of Upper Arlington.
Quarry Trail is aptly named, because its quarry past (and quarry present) is evident pretty much everywhere you look. You can see the cliff-like walls of the old quarry operations in the far distance, and large rocks were a constant feature as we walked along. The park’s designers are putting the gradations created by the excavations at the old quarry to good use in other ways, too; there are several mountain bike areas that intrepid cyclists were enjoying as we walked past.
Although Quarry Trails formally opened in 2021, it remains very much a work in progress. The trail signs are temporary, and the grounds are littered with construction equipment. Our visit allowed us to get a sense of what the park’s designers were trying to do, and the plans obviously are ambitious. The configuration of the 220-acre park property is unusual, as the park is surrounded not only by the current quarry operations but also by residential neighborhoods. The park property consists of three larger areas connected at narrow points by a trail, and the park designers have worked to make use of every square inch of space.
We followed the connection trail down to a small lake created by the old quarry operations, where there are swinging benches and large rocks that were irresistible leaping-off points for the kids who were there. You can see one of the residential neighborhoods on the east side of the lake in the photo below, and a nice boardwalk area running along the lake’s edge. There were lots of people out and around, and I would guess that many of them came from the surrounding neighborhoods. I expect they are happy to have a scene like this in their backyards.
Parks are important to communities, and are worth the investment and effort. Quarry Trails was made possible because Columbus voters have historically supported funding for parks and recreation. This year, Issue 15–one of a series of bond issues on the ballot–would provide $200 million in funding for parks and recreation activities, including renovation, replacement, and new park and greenway development. I’ll be voting yes on that issue so that new parks like Quarry Trails can continue to come on line and make Columbus an even better place to live.