You don’t have to venture to Yellowstone to have an American safari. Bring your binoculars to Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park and pedal right by a pasture that is home to a herd of a dozen bison, including five calves born in 2021.
Just over 200 years ago, Ohio was home to not only deep forests, but also native prairies and bison. Though they were hunted to extinction, with the help of The Wilds, a Columbus Zoo-affiliated wildlife conservation center, bison were introduced to Battelle Darby in 2011.
Darby Greenway Trail
Park at the Cedar Ridge Picnic Area and pick up the southern terminus of the flat, mostly crushed-gravel Darby Greenway Trail. The trail is in good shape but not recommended for skinny tires. Bike north and soon you’ll be traveling between the fenced Prairie Bison Pasture on your right and the Winter Bison Pasture on your left. Experience the unforgettable sight of a 1,000-pound wild animal up close, even if on the other side of a fence. If you don’t see any bison right away, take a left at the spur to the Nature Center and ask where they’ve been sighted recently. The Nature Center is worth checking out anyway, with its 45-foot living stream that replicates the aquatic life in the Darby creeks (open 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. April through Sept., 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Oct. through March). You can even bring along your hammock and hang from the provided hammock posts outside.
The Darby Greenway Trail is a total of 5 miles in length, for a 10-mile out-and-back ride. This trail is situated among prairies and wetlands. Morning and evening are the best times to ride, when the blazing sun isn’t directly overhead, and when birds are most active. Late summer sees the height of prairie wildflowers.