Have you ever wished you could try out your backcountry hiking gear before you go? Do you wish you could sleep under the stars in a familiar place and see where your gear is lacking before you are high in the mountains and unfamiliar with the environment? Have you wondered what trying out your gear looks like while NOT in your own back yard? Columbus Metro Parks has just the park for you! Scioto Grove in Grove City, is the place for the average to avid hikers to try out their backcountry gear.
Scioto Grove has 5 “backcountry” practice locations. These sites were created with help from REI for the central Ohioan in mind. The sites are available to use every other weekend and you have to call ahead to reserve a site. Backpacking registration for 2017 opened April 3 and reservations are running from April 14 every other weekend, through to the end of October. Backpacking is free and reservations can be taken by calling. 614-949-1078.
We recently went to Scioto Grove for an overnight practice trip and stayed at site 1. Parking for your overnights is at the North Canoe Access area, and we were able to find that easily with the sign off of the main road. When you arrive you call the ranger on duty and they meet you there to get you checked in. The process was very efficient and we enjoyed talking with Ranger Draves before we began our hike to our site. As we familiarized ourselves with our location and the park map, we found that there were primitive but very clean bathrooms at the Hickory area with a short walking distance. These are very nice and I was personally glad they were so close to site 1.
The hike to site 1 is very easy and is about a 1/2 miles from the parking area. This site is tucked into a wooded area and right off of the REI River trail as you enter through the Hickory area. The mosquitoes were quick to welcome us as we began to set up. I was glad I had remembered the bug spray. This was the first trip out that the mosquitoes were so welcoming! Site 1 and all the backpacking sites have 2 raised platforms for your equipment, a fire ring, 2 benches and firewood. The firewood is provided for you from the metro park! BONUS!
Site 1 is not the farthest site from potable water, but it is a bit of a walk to get it. You will need to pack in what you want to use or hike out to the Arrowhead parking area to where water and bathrooms are located. Remember, this is not a short walk. It is at least a mile round trip from site 1. I packed in the water we needed and we had plenty for the cooking and drinking that we had planned. If you plan ahead for this site you won’t have any problems.
If you want to practice using your water filtration systems, the Scioto River is a short walking distance from site 1. Our daughter, Abbie, took along her Life Straw and was having fun trying it there on the muddy banks. You can take your water bottles and fill them and return to camp or take your system to the river and work on it there on the river bank.
Scioto Grove is a pack in and pack out camping area. What you take in, you must pack out. It is a good way to help you and your family learn the “leave no trace” ideology. We found if you pack in a white kitchen style trash bag and put everything in there, you can easily pack out your trash to a receptacle. Our family likes to leave the sites cleaner than how we found it and hope that you will adopt this too.
Scioto Grove is not your average metro park. It has the backpacker in mind, but also has much to offer for others. It has 620-acre park along the Scioto River with mature forests and scenic bluffs, where you can enjoy the beauty of nature. It features more than seven miles of trails, two picnic areas with shelters, tables and grills, a kids play area and several overlook decks. It is a wonderful destination for canoeists, kayakers, anglers and people wanting to see waterfowl and other wildlife.
We had a wonderful evening at our site as a family. The gear was checked out, the fire lit and enjoyed and a quick game of Roll For It played. As with all week-end activity it came to an end all to quickly and we had to get out of the woods and back to “real life” .
We encourage your family to head out to Scioto Grove and check out all it has to offer. If you wonder about how to get your family outfitted up for a trip feel free to ask me. I’d love to share with you the information I have gathered!
Follow us on Instagram!