Ohio State Nature at Highbanks Metro Park
One sunny day this week, our family and two friends took a hike at Highbanks Metro Park to stretch our legs and spy on the eagle's nest. Little did we know what else we would find. We observed the Ohio state wildflower, bird, tree, mammal, the United States national bird and Ben Franklin's national bird nomination in an easy three mile hike. Can you name the specially designated species? I'm proud to say that Lil identified them all!
As we approached the eagle overlook platform, another birder alerted us to a flock of wild turkeys up the road. They had mostly moved on by the time we approached but we saw a male moving stealthily across the trail. The kids gobbled, though we heard nothing from the real turkeys.
We found the eagle's nest. Both parents were there at first. One left, soared, and returned to the nest while we watched. Alex thinks he saw the head of a chick; I trust his eagle eyes.
We listened to birds and woodpeckers along the way, spotting a brown creeper, downy woodpecker, Northern cardinal (Ohio state bird) and several other songbirds.
One of the children we were with wanted to know the name of this tree. It's the buckeye, Ohio's state tree! We also observed the Pool family gravestones, prehistoric earthworks, and a valley that demonstrates two kinds of Ohio bedrock, all labelled with engaging signs.
I love the ancient Ohio state wildflower, the trillium. We saw several along the trail in the company of spring beauties, may apples, Dutchman's britches, asters, violets, and more.
On the return loop, a flock of white tailed deer (Ohio's state mammal) ran through the woods. They stopped and ate within our eyesight, camouflaged in the trees.
Easter weekend is a great time to take a few hours to soak up the sun and observe nature. If you are in Columbus, I highly recommend the Overlook trail to see a variety of woodland life including the bald eagle nest.
If you go:
- Park in the Oak Coves picnic area, the first picnic area on the left after entering the park.
- Bring binoculars - the eagles are barely visible with the naked eye.
- Carry a snack or water if you might need it.
- Visit the Oak Coves restrooms before you leave - there are none along the trail.
- Expect to spend at least 90 minutes on the 3 mile trail if trekking with kids. Adults could complete the trail in an hour with few stops.