Photo: UA Creative Studios/Experience Columbus

Columbus Running: Antrim Park: From Quarry to Urban Oasis

Antrim Park is in North Columbus, on the west side of the Olentangy River, at 5800 Olentangy River Road, just north of Bethel Road and a little south of State Route 161.

Once the site of a quarry where millions of pounds of sand and gravel were mined in the 1960s, Antrim Park is now a haven where runners can grind away the miles—or at least  take a pleasant stroll to get away from it all. The spring-fed, fish-filled Lake Antrim (the former quarry) is circled by a path that’s perfect for a leisurely jog, or for an all-out time trial as you prepare for an upcoming 10K. Also, there’s the lesser-known path through the woods, which meanders through the forest and along the nearby Olentangy River before reconnecting with the circular path around the lake.

What are you runners out there waiting for?

Getting There

Antrim Park is in North Columbus, on the west side of the Olentangy River, at 5800 Olentangy River Road, just north of Bethel Road and a little south of State Route 161. There’s a large parking lot, with a couple of portable toilets and a water fountain (by the bike rack). From the parking lot, walk under the SR 315 bridge and over to the lake’s observation deck to take a look around as you warm up.

Route

Once around the lake is 1.2 miles, on a well-packed dirt and gravel path that’s easy on the joints. There’s lots of fast-moving traffic on the nearby SR 315, so you can never quite get away from it all, but with earphones or earbuds, you can get pretty darn close. The lake is smooth, a deep blue, and, every once in a while, ripples with jumping fish. 

The path is quite popular, especially on the weekends, but never so crowded that it’s a problem. Stay to the right and be considerate of others. The Olentangy multi-use trail goes right by the west side of Antrim Lake, and lots of cyclists whiz by. Bikes are not allowed on the path around the lake. Dogs, on leashes, are allowed, and this is a popular dog-walking route. 

Photo: UA Creative Studios/Experience Columbus

Through the Forest

Not as many runners seem to know about the path through the woods, which just might be an even better route than around the lake. You can judge for yourself. There’s something special, primordial even, about running through a dense forest, along a river, jumping over rocks, roots and fallen trees.

To find the path: From the observation deck, head north on the “regular” path, and when it begins to curve around to the right (the east), look for the start of the trail; follow it to the left and into the woods. After a couple hundred yards, you’ll reach the banks of the Olentangy. The path follows the river, proceeds past a dam, and then reconnects with the 1.2-mile route around the lake at about the .75-mile mark of the lake lap. The forest route is 1.5 miles. And so, a combined lake lap and forest lap is a great, 2.7-mile run. Then again, why not do another lap or two?

Reel ’Em In

Lake Antrim has lots of carp, bluegill, bass (many at 5 pounds or more), and is restocked with trout once a year by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. The state-record for a saugeye (14.04 pounds) was caught here in 2004. Saugeye are not stocked in the lake, and it is believed—and sounds probable—that they jumped, or swam, over from the Olentangy when high flows peaked and it crested into the lake.

Few other activities are permitted on Lake Antrim, unfortunately. (Boating, swimming, and even wading into the river to cast, is prohibited.)

Ready, Set, Go

The Ohio Super Sprint Triathlon and Duathlon begins and ends at Antrim Park, and the July event includes a swim in the lake. Don’t worry, the saugeye don’t bite. 

Antrim Park

The lake sits in the middle of the 122-acre park, which features basketball courts, and football, soccer and rugby fields.

Where To Eat

There’s nothing within easy walking distance of the park, so plan to picnic on the observation deck or under the shade of a tree on one of the many lakeside benches—always a romantic option if you’re with the right partner.

Several dining options are a short drive away, including a few standouts at the Olentangy Plaza Shopping Mall, about a mile south of Antrim Park on Olentangy River Road at the intersection of Bethel Road. Gallos Tap Room serves up tasty pizzas and paninis, and offers a nice selection of craft beers. 

More Info: columbus.gov

All articles are for general informational purposes.  Each individual’s needs, preferences, goals and abilities may vary.  Be sure to obtain all appropriate training, expert supervision and/or medical advice before engaging in strenuous or potentially hazardous activity.