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Stream-cut ravines and substantial waterfowl habitat are two highlights of Blendon Woods Metro Park, a solid hiking and picnic spot in Westerville. Nearby Sharon Woods sometimes get most of the attention, but this park definitely deserves a visit in the summer. (It's one of the shadiest, so you're safe from the heat!)

Blendon Woods 4265 E. Dublin-Granville Rd. Westerville, OH 43081 614-891-0700 Homepage

View larger image Here's a look into one of the streams that run beneath the dense woods along the Brookside Trail. This is a great place to start after parking near the ranger station.

View larger image The stream continues for a quarter-mile, and a few benches along the path provide a good spot to stop and stare.

View larger image Head a touch south at the end of the Brookside Trail for a stop at the awesome nature center. It features a library, live wildlife displays, tons of birding info and a working beehive.

View larger image On your way to Thoreau Lake, centerpiece of the outstanding Walden Waterfowl Refuge, you'll pass a sliver of glorious, shining prairie taller than you.

View larger image I've waded into this marshy pond to catch giant snapping turtles. It was nice just to sit and watch without getting wet. Two observation decks protect birders from elements and being seen.

View larger image You'll encounter (maybe) one annoying climb at Blendon. This staircase and the correlating view along the Overlook Trail are worth it.

View larger image The end of the Overlook Trail has a nice perch to rest and peer into what seem like endless woods.