Outdoor news and notes from around Central Ohio.

Series of fitness hikes continues through autumn

Columbus is no longer ranked among the five fattest cities in the United States - we've dropped out of the top 10, according to Men's Fitness - and Metro Parks hopes to keep the wellness wagon moving.

Its annual Commit to be Fit hike series continues through Oct. 26. Five hikes remain, including this Sunday at Battelle Darby Creek in Galloway. On successive Sundays, participants will hit Slate Run, Sharon Woods, Chestnut Ridge and, finally, Highbanks.

Each hike starts at 1 p.m. and features a one- or two-mile jaunt through different terrain. You can walk at your own pace or join a group, and all trips are led by park rangers.

Web: metroparks.net

Dayton parks to host annual outdoor summit

Dayton's Five Rivers MetroParks are on their way to becoming the adventure capital of the Midwest, and they'll showcase the area's awesome outdoor opportunities at GearFest from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 4.

The Eastwood MetroPark, which overlooks the downtown skyline, will be the temporary home for everything you need to know, see or buy to get into the Ohio wilderness. Last year, more than 7,500 came to see demos, exhibits and live music, and this year is shaping up to be even bigger.

An expanded exhibitor village will host guides, retailers, outfitters and outdoor groups. Also on tap are professional biking and kayaking demos, a youth adventure zone, canoe trips on the Mad River and a disc-golf tourney.

Camping at the fest will be available on Friday and Saturday nights.

Web: metroparks.org

Cool creatures on display during center's fall festival

Twenty-five years ago, the Ohio Wildlife Center was a one-man operation in an old garage. Today the nonprofit organization based in Powell helps thousands of injured animals and fosters a growing awareness of Ohio's rich native wildlife.

This year's annual WildFest celebration should be something special.

The Oct. 4 festivities will include live animal exhibitions, local music, nature hikes, fishing, wagon rides, food, art and much more. Runners and walkers can kick off the day with the Red Tail 5K Run.

WildFest runs from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Admission costs $5 for adults, and $3 for kids 12 and under.

Web: ohiowildlifecenter.org

Local waterways to be stocked with rainbow trout

Bass season will soon come grinding to a halt in Central Ohio, so be thankful for the folks at the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and the 25,000 rainbow trout they'll add to waterways across the state.

The annual tradition runs through October, and two locations in Franklin County will get a share of the 10- to 13-inch fish. Heritage Park Pond will be stocked on Oct. 16, Antrim Lake on Oct. 30.

Here's the best news: The fish are beautiful and meant to be caught.

Web: ohiodnr.com

Outdoor Tip of the Week

On backpacking trips, I usually pack dry items with Ziploc bags, which are cheap. They're also hard to deflate and easy to rip. Instead, coffee-drinkers should reuse heat-sealed java bags with sealable tops. They're thicker, more durable and have better fasteners. Some even have a rear air valve. Thanks to Russell Lloyd at PaddyPallin.com.au for this one.

Local participants in National Park(ing) Day were met with quizzical looks, smiles and questions when they set up temporary parks at Downtown parking meters on Friday. For photos and a recap, click to The Riot Act blog at ColumbusAlive.com