Perhaps the best way to experience nature’s beauty and appreciate our natural resources in the Dayton area is through our robust networks of parks.
Beyond the recreation and connection with nature, they’re also key to some of the region’s top investments in conservation, reforestation and preserving and protecting wildlife -- and they all boast unique features.
Here’s our guide to Dayton’s beautiful MetroParks.
Aullwood Garden MetroPark
Location: 955 Aullwood Road, Englewood
Why visit: Perfect for history buffs, here you’ll find a burr oak tree with a 1913 flood watermark, and a twin sycamore aged when Christopher Columbus discovered America in 1492.
Carriage Hill MetroPark
Location: 7800 E. Shull Road, Dayton
Why visit: If you love fishing and trails, add this park to your must-visit list. Oh, and if you want a taste of Dayton’s past -- visit their blacksmith shop, woodshop, historic house and bank barn where you’ll find historic breeds of farm animals.
Cox Arboretum MetroPark
Location: 6733 Springboro Pike, Dayton
Why visit: With over a dozen specialty gardens, including a Butterfly House with native butterflies and moths, this MetroPark has so much to explore. There are also 2.5 miles of trails and a Tree Tower that rises 46 feet high for an incredible view.
Deeds Point MetroPark
Location: 510 Webster St., Dayton
Why visit: Calling all bird watchers, this park has a variety of migratory and resident birds can be seen here, including bald eagles. The park has a bronze statue of Wilbur and Orville Wright as a fixture along the trail, and an aviation timeline exhibit. The park also has a monument — Dayton Peace Accord — that symbolizes the agreement for peace between Bosnia and Herzegovina struck in Dayton on Nov. 21, 1995.
Location: 1385 Harshman Road, Dayton
Why visit: Are water sports your call to the wild? Here you can boat, paddle, kayak, canoe and fish. There are also numerous scenic trails that connect to many others in the area.
Location: 4361 National Road, Vandalia
Why visit: This park blends scenic and sporty. Forest areas, wetlands and woodlands, grasslands, rivers and 12 miles of trails are all within reach. Follow a boardwalk into this wet area that supports an unusual population of trees including black ash, swamp white oak and pumpkin ash. This wetland has been dedicated as a State Natural Landmark in recognition of the occurrence of pumpkin ash, a tree rarely found in Ohio.
Location: 7101 Conservancy Road, Germantown
Why visit: Looking to camp among rare species of plants and animals? The park’s 22 miles of camping-friendly trails are for you. Don’t miss the “Window on Wildlife” with benches where visitors can sit, watch and listen to native birds through microphone-equipped windows.
Hills & Dales MetroPark
Location: 2655 S. Patterson Blvd., Kettering
Why visit: Great for hiking beginners and families, this walkable park features hills and ravines covered in mature and young hardwood forest, spring seeps and associated small wetlands. Don’t miss the “Staged Gates” landscape sculpture.
Location: 4439 Lower Valley Pike, Dayton
Why visit: Looking for a new spot to walk or hike? This 110-acre grassland is one of the largest prairie remnants in Ohio, which is maintained and restored in partner with Wright Patterson AFB. There are various trails and paths to explore, most of which connect to others in the area.
Location: 101 E. Helena St., Dayton
Why visit: This park offers a unique opportunity to explore nature, bird watch and walk trails. There is also a playground area, interactive waterplay system during summer and a bandshell for live music.
Possum Creek MetroPark
Location: 4790 Frytown Road, Dayton
Why visit: This is one of the largest and most diverse planted prairies in Ohio. In striving to become a leader in sustainable innovation, here you can help grow a garden in the approximately 100 community garden plots. Walking and hiking trails are plentiful, and fishing and ice fishing are also available.
Location: 111 E. Monument Ave., Dayton
Why visit: Diverse in both recreation and wildlife, this spot is a must-visit to experience fun and exploration in nature. Free summer weekend concerts, parent and preschooler programs, major community festivals and an ice skating rink. The Dayton Inventor’s River Walk includes seven invention stations along Monument Avenue and Patterson Boulevard that celebrate Dayton inventions. Bike and kayak rentals available. Daytonian Paul Laurence Dunbar’s famous poems are etched in stone at the top of the staircase at the west end of the park.
Location: 4178 Conference Road, Bellbrook
Why visit: Here you’ll find 550-year old white oaks, a planted prairie, scenic bird walks, meadows, and Sugar Creek. Be sure to snap a few photos in the “living tunnel” created by the large arching branches of Osage Orange trees, which date back to the 1800s.
Location: 50 Edwin C. Moses Blvd., Dayton
Why visit: Get active in nature! Located at the juncture of Wolf Creek and the Great Miami River in Dayton, this small park is an excellent place to watch wildlife, walk trails, skate, run, bike ride and fish.
Location: 2000 State Route 40, Vandalia
Why visit: This park has unique history and typography. Wooded ravines, massive rock outcroppings, historic ruins and the Great Miami River make this large 1,300-acre park a must-visit. There are also approximately 13 miles of scenic trails. Available activities include fishing, kayaking, canoeing, sledding, cross-country skiing.
Twin Creek MetroPark
Location: 9688 Eby Road, Germantown
Why visit: Don’t miss the winding prehistoric Indian mound and scenic hilltop vista. The park has over 20 miles of camping-friendly wooded trails, including seven miles of equestrian trails. Fish, backpack, hike and explore waterways.
Wegerzyn Gardens MetroPark
Location: 1301 E. Siebenthaler Ave., Dayton
Why visit: This one you’ll want to the kiddos to. The Children’s Discovery Garden inspires little ones to play and explore texture, creatures, sounds and more. The beautifully planted Forman gardens, community gardens and boardwalk-navigation wetlands make for a great spot to see native birds and wildlife.
Location: 1441 Wesleyan Road, Dayton
Why visit: This 55-acre park features numerous scenic spots, making it a great choice for your next family photo session. The park is the home of Adventure Central, an innovative partnership between MetroParks and Ohio State University Extension, 4-H Youth Development. Here, urban youth learn about the environment and develop life skills through after-school programs, clubs and camps. There is also a playground and fishing available.
Caesar Creek State Park
Location: 8570 E. SR 73, Waynesville
Why visit: Known as one of the state’s premier outdoor recreation destinations, this 7,900-acre park offers more than 40 miles of hiking trails (ranging from mild to extremely rugged) that provide beautiful and striking views of the lake and the surrounding area. There are also opportunities for boating and camping.
John Bryan State Park
Location: 3790 State Route 370, Yellow Springs
Why visit: John Bryan State Park is perhaps the most scenic State Park in western Ohio. Long ago, the limestone gorge, a portion of which is a national landmark, was cut by the Little Miami River (a state and national scenic river). On your hike along the 10-mile trail, you can see more than 100 different species of trees and shrubs, 340 species of wild flowers, 90 different varieties of birds, white-tail deer, beaver, coyotes, gray squirrels, fox squirrels -- and even an occasional white squirrel.
Location: 2535 Ross Road, Tipp City
Why visit: Discover uncommon plants and a unique waterfall originating from small underground springs. The 216-acre park features an observation boardwalk near the falls, a limestone cave, wildlife pond, tall grass prairie and nearly 4 miles of trails.
What do you love most about Dayton’s Metro Parks? Drop me a line at email@example.com.