by Beth McCollam
Imagine riding a bike from Westerville to the preserved natural areas of Three Creeks Metro Park while enjoying breathtaking natural beauty and cityscapes along the way. That scenario will become a reality in 2014 when the City of Columbus is scheduled to complete the missing link to the Alum Creek Trail (near Dominican University), one of nine Central Ohio Greenways.
Upon its completion, outdoor enthusiasts, bikers and runners training for the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Columbus Marathon will have over 30 miles of trails and greenways along Alum Creek with access to multiple points of interest along the route. Horseback riders can also enjoy 3.3 miles of parallel bridle path operated by Metro Parks along the Heritage Trail.
According to Amanda McEldowney, Program and Event Coordinator with the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC), the points of interest these greenways are connecting Central Ohio to are parks, businesses and boating and fishing facilities. Outdoor enthusiasts can visit 416 acres of a state nature preserve at Pickerington Ponds or Blacklick Woods for a round of golf. There are theme gardens at Inniswood Metro Gardens, as well as a herd of bison and 44 species of freshwater mussels at Battelle Darby Creek.
McEldowney says the mission of Central Ohio Greenways is to provide better networking of communities, to provide commuters with alternative means of transportation and to make Central Ohio the leader in trail development. She says the greenways project not only provides these unique environmental benefits, but it helps to conserve resources, provide for smart growth of the local economy, improves health and increases recreation choices and transportation options.
Central Ohio Greenways is a partnership between Franklin County, MORPC, Metro Parks, the City of Columbus, the Columbus Foundation, and Rails-to-Trails. Rails-to-Trails is the national network of former railroad lines that will connect Central Ohio to the rest of state and beyond.
For more information, visit CentralOhioGreeways.com.
Beth McCollam is a freelance writer who is just beginning to learn about herbs. She enjoys running outdoors and watching baseball games. Connect at Beth.McCollam@yahoo.com.