Written By Theresa Russell for the Ohio. Find It Here blog posted on: Aug 28, 2016

With the opening of the newest metro park just outside Columbus, there is now the perfect opportunity to try out backpacking without venturing abroad. The first urban backpacking in the USA, the program takes place in Scioto Grove Metro Park, giving outdoors enthusiasts of all ages and experience levels the chance to try out a new sport.

Anxious to experience the backpacking overnight, I attempted to reserve a spot only to find that the sites were all booked on the dates that I wanted. Lesson learned – make your reservation for a campsite far in advance. Be aware that the backpacking with camping experience takes place on alternate weekends through October. Scattered throughout the park are five sites complete with two camping pads for as many tents as will fit on them. These sites have a fire area and are rather basic with no toilets on site. What better way to immerse prospective backpackers into the experience.

One great benefit for new backpackers is that in addition to these sites being provided, there are also several distance options. New backpackers might opt for a shorter route to start, while more experienced enthusiasts will combine several of the loops to make for a longer trip. While the urban backpacking experience caters to those new to the sport, it also attracts experienced backpackers who want to introduce somebody new to the sport or to share the experience with a young child, making it a family adventure. The distances are ideal for testing out new equipment before heading out on a long-distance trek. Equally appealing is the location that doesn’t require driving long distances for the experience. Families with young children will find the distances and terrain perfect for even the youngest hiker.

The five sites with the park are located with some distance from each other, but not too far off the trails. The alternate weekend experiences keep the camping spots from being overused and lessen the impact on the land. Grab your gear and strap on your pack and get to Scioto Grove.And don’t think that backpacking is the only activity available at Scioto Grove. Like me, you could enjoy a day hike or two, grab a paddle and head to the Scioto River to drift in a canoe or kayak, try to catch a fish, or spend time with the family on an easy hike.

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