When most of the Metro Parks were founded, they seemed light years from the hustle of the big city. Over the years, development crept to their borders and, as it often does, connected those lonely spaces between the exurbs and the urban core.

When most of the Metro Parks were founded, they seemed light years from the hustle of the big city. Over the years, development crept to their borders and, as it often does, connected those lonely spaces between the exurbs and the urban core.

So it was with Sharon Woods, which was founded in 1968 and today hangs onto a striking natural beauty even as the world bustles and pulses nearby.

"Sharon Woods is very much an example of a park that was in the country near the small town of Westerville when we began acquisition," said John O'Meara, executive director of Metro Parks."Now it's completely surrounded by freeways and urban development."

Even so, the borders have held strong around one of Central Ohio's most popular green spaces. Nowhere is this steadfast resolve more evident than on the Spring Creek Trail, a gem of the county's 15-park system.

From the Apple Ridge Picnic Area, just off Cleveland Avenue, things start in familiar fashion. You'll walk past a parking lot and over a road before shedding concrete trim for the dense, interesting forest that gives Sharon Woods its name.

The trail is easy - almost always flat, straight and covered with packed gravel. You'll wander past a boggy pond and twice cross Spring Creek, a small and pleasant stream forded by strong wooden bridges. (Summer flows are low, so put on bug spray before you leave.)

After another half-mile, through a picture frame of overhanging oaks, the trail bursts into a wide, rolling prairie with big sky on all sides. This meadow is the highlight of the trail - and, in my opinion, the entire park.

From the Spring Creek Trail, several short paths of cut grass wind through the field. Take all of them.

Beneath enormous clouds and azure hues, the prairie grows dense with brush, bushes, berry brambles and wildflowers thriving in the hazy summer heat. You'll see common blooms such as daisies, black-eyed Susans and Queen Anne's lace and rarer ones like wild roses and Turk's-cap lilies.

Birds soar. Bugs buzz. You'll feel a million miles from everywhere.

For an interactive guide to the Spring Creek Trail, click to the Ohio Adventure Map at columbusalive.com/venture.