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A collection of ponds, marshes and fields, Pickerington Ponds is a great park to picnic, sit quietly, observe ospreys and let your dog off his leash. If you're looking for hiking or woods, try Sharon Woods, Three Creeks or Battelle Darby Creek metro parks.

Pickerington Ponds 7680 Wright Rd. Canal Winchester, OH 43110 614-891-0700 Homepage

The park is somewhat disconnected, but each of three sections offers something unique. On a journey there last week, I opted first for Ellis Pond, just off Bowden Road. There are restrooms, a free spotting scope, the mile-long Meadow Lark Trail, a covered hangout area and one of the park's namesake ponds.

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Next I turned right onto Wright Road and hit the park headquarters. The park office is located in a quaint old farmhouse, though it was closed. From here, you can explore a marshy area or walk the gravelly Yellowlegs Trail, running a half-mile.

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If you cross the street to a small parking lot, you'll see an active osprey hack nest located on a stilt above the water. The ospreys were very attentive to their nest, meaning there's something brewing in there. White, space-aged nest boxes designed for tree swallows can be found on your right.

Other birding abounds at Pickerington Ponds. From the blind at the Wood Duck Picnic Area, located north on Bowden Road, you can see migratory waterfowl like woods ducks, American coots, lesser scaups, canvasbacks, Canada geese, mallards and blue-winged teals.

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Arrowhead Marsh, also located on Bowden Road, offers another elevated viewing platform with a free spotting scope. If you're looking to eat outdoors, there's a great covered area with tables here.

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