The newest Metro Park in Central Ohio has 2.5 miles of trails, a gravel parking lot, a picnic table and a few wooden signs. You've got to pack out all your trash, and about a third of the paved multiuse path is underwater.

The newest Metro Park in Central Ohio has 2.5 miles of trails, a gravel parking lot, a picnic table and a few wooden signs. You've got to pack out all your trash, and about a third of the paved multiuse path is underwater.

This is Walnut Woods - for now.

By next year, the green space along Richardson Road in Groveport will be a full-fledged activity haven about 20 minutes southeast of Downtown.

What's pretty good today is set to get even better, as one small area gives way to three connected ones.

"The Tall Pines Area opened July 25, and it's basically done for this year," said Mindi McConnell, who manages the new park. "We're going to work on the other phase east of Lithopolis Road. We hope to have that open by early next year."

That land is known informally as the Buckeye Area and will include restrooms, a dog park, a small sledding hill and other amenities. The middle section between Richardson and Lithopolis roads already houses numerous wetland cells and will eventually feature a multiuse trail uniting all three areas.

"It's just different than anything I've ever managed," McConnell said. "The whole thing - just starting in a new park, meeting the community and neighbors - is just really interesting."

If you're looking for a new place to walk this weekend, don't let the park's in-progress status keep you at bay.

The Tall Pines paved loop is unlike anything else in the park system. A shady lane winds among rows of skinny yet towering sweet gums and pines planted in an old nursery once owned by the city of Columbus. In addition to orderly horticulture, you'll see an old grain silo left to bake beneath a cloudless blue sky.

Even though amenities are limited, everything at Walnut Woods is tidy and new, a layer of intrigue as fresh as the new asphalt.

"With the old nursery, it sticks out among anything else in the parks," McConnell explained. "The rows show a sign of history of the area. And we've gotten to put wetlands in an area that was basically stripped of all its topsoil."