One of the most common New Year’s resolutions is to get in better shape, and there are free resources available in central Ohio to help local residents reach their goals.
For example, Preservation Parks of Delaware County offers the annual Winter 100 challenge from January to March 31.
“Register, log your distance, and be connected to a community of walkers this winter,” said the Preservation Parks website. “Be a part of a private Facebook group, bi-weekly email, and expert winter walking tips from our partners.”
The idea is to walk or run 100 miles or 100 kilometers (62 miles) during the three winter months. There is a distance tracker those participating in the program can fill out, with a prize going to those who complete the challenge.
“Keeping active and spending time outdoors is vital for our mental and physical well-being through the cold winter months,” the Parks website said.
There are currently 11 parks and three scenic trails in the Preservation Parks system scattered throughout Delaware County, and the challenge is a good way to check all of them out.
Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks has its own annual Winter Hike series, currently in its 50th year. The series began in December and are now self-guided due to COVID-19. However, there will be refreshments provided from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturdays at the following parks: Prairie Oaks (Jan. 7), Sharon Woods (Jan. 14), Scioto Audubon (Jan. 21), and Clear Creek (Jan. 28).
“Go to an event to get a Winter Hike Card,” Metro Parks posted on Instagram. “Visit the parks highlighted on each page and hike any trail during the designated month. Have a staff member mark your Winter Hike card. Complete 7 hikes to qualify for a patch … Hike all 20 parks and join Friends of Metro Parks to earn hiking sticks and medallions.”
There will be a celebration on Feb. 26 where those completing the series can receive their Winter Hike patch.
“Bundle up, choose your route and get outside!” Metro Parks said on Instagram.
There are also two state parks (Alum Creek and Delaware) in Delaware County, part of 75 overall. Unlike many states, Ohio’s parks are free and open daily. There is also a free mobile app — Detour — which shows trail routes.
“Ohio State Parks showcase the state’s scenic beauty and provide more than 1,000 miles of forest trails and 70 sparkling lakes where visitors can hike, bike, boat, swim, fish, hunt or just relax and enjoy nature,” said the Ohio Department of Natural Resources website.