Pickerington Ponds

Franklin, Ohio, US


215 species

Tips for Birding

Pickerington Ponds Metro Park is a 1,387-acre area located in the southeast corner of Franklin County and the northwest corner of Fairfield County. The main pond, Ellis Pond, represents one of the last remaining glacial kettle lakes in Central Ohio and this core area of 413 acres is a dedicated nature preserve. Pickerington Ponds offers a wide variety of birding experiences throughout the year, however, spring and fall migration provide the best times to view the highest diversity of birds. Since 1970, over 260 species of birds have been recorded for this Ohio Audubon-designated Important Bird Area. Heading the list of family groups observed at Pickerington Ponds are 35 species of water birds, 32 species of warblers, and 30 species of shorebirds. Waterfowl are present during the winter months until Ellis Pond freezes over.

In 1997, 14 greater white-fronted geese spent most of the winter on Ellis Pond. Since 2002, the Metro Parks has restored nearly 750 acres of wetland and adjacent habitats at Pickerington Ponds. These areas are accessible for birding via nature trails and observation decks. Rarities at Pickerington Ponds include glossy ibis, American avocet, marbled godwit, American white pelican, surf scoter, and little blue heron. A great blue heron rookery is annually present on the south side of Ellis Pond and can be viewed from the Wright Road viewing area prior to spring leaf-out.

From the intersection of I-270 and I-70 on the east side of Columbus; go east to the next exit, which is Brice Road. Go south on Brice Road, at the second traffic light Brice Road goes to the right, continue straight on Gender Road for approximately 2 miles, and turn left (east) onto Wright Road. The park boundary begins in approximately one mile; you will notice the wetlands on your left. Birding areas are accessible from Bowen Road both north and south of Wright, and also from Wright Road east of Bowen Road.

Open all year during daylight hours.

Parking Areas: The Wright Road Observation Area; Bowen Road Observation Area; Wood Duck and Glacier Knoll Picnic Areas.

Birding programs are offered by a park naturalist, please check the Parkscope program schedule or website for dates and times.

Birds of Interest

Waterfowl until Ellis Pond freezes.
Waterfowl, marsh birds, and songbirds.
Marsh birds.
Shorebirds and waterfowl.

About this Location

The Fairfield-Franklin county line runs through Pickerington Ponds Metro Park. (See the map for the location of the county line.) eBird hotspots are organized by county. If you carefully keep your bird records by county, be sure to use the specific hotspots in this park so that the birds will be assigned to the proper county.

Designated as one of Ohio’s Important Birding Areas by Audubon Ohio, Pickerington Ponds is a premier spot for observing more than 260 species of birds. The combination of seasonal ponds and rich wetland vegetation, with bordering woodlands, serves as a magnet for migrating waterfowl, shorebirds, and land birds.

Located on the southeast side of Ellis Pond is a great blue heron rookery that has held up to 50 nests during the breeding season.

More than 400 acres of the site have been dedicated as a nature preserve. White-tailed deer, beaver, red fox, and other wildlife can be seen near the ponds and adjoining woodlots and fields.

Osprey established a nest at Pickerington Ponds in 2008 and have had babies there from 2009 onward. They return in March each year and can be viewed from the observation deck at the Glacier Knoll Picnic Area on Bowen Road, which has a spotting scope.

Take some time to enjoy the colorful nature mural, created by students from Pickerington Elementary School, at the Bowen Road entrance.

Four miles of scenic trails wind through the fields and around the ponds. Bikers and other outdoor enthusiasts can hop on a 0.8-mile section of the Blacklick Creek Greenway Trail at the Glacier Knoll Picnic Area. From Glacier Knoll, the trail extends nine miles west and south to Three Creeks Park. Also from Glacier Knoll, it extends 1.25 miles east to Refugee Road, and from Refugee Road another 2.25 miles to Blacklick Woods Metro Park.

Notable Trails

There are 6 trails at Pickerington Ponds Metro Park:
Arrowhead Trail – 1.7 miles – easy
Burning Lake Trail – 1.5 miles
Blacklick Creek Greenway Trail – 16 miles – easy
Killdeer Trail – 1.1 miles – easy
Meadowlark – 1 mile – easy
Yellowlegs Trail – 0.5 miles – easy

There are descriptions and maps of hikes at Pickerington Ponds on the AllTrails Website:
Arrowhead Trail Loop
Killdeer to Yellowlegs Trail
Meadowlark Trail

Also, see Blacklick Creek Greenway Trail


  • Restrooms on site

Content from Ohio Ornithological Society and Pickerington Ponds webpage