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John Glenn, the 'last true national hero,' dead at 95

Summer fun: top 35 things to do in Central Ohio

Skydive on a whim or climb largest free outdoor climbing wall in the country


Thrill-lovers won’t find much in the way of mountain climbing or ocean surfing in central Ohio. But plenty of other outdoor adventures await Columbus-area residents and visitors willing to seek them out.

Just plane exciting

Central Ohio is a great place to jump out of an airplane. Really.

“People still think sky diving is only something you can do in an exotic location, but you can experience all of this right here in Ohio,” Skydive Columbus owner Chris Chapman said.

Chapman’s company, located at the Fairfield County Airport 20 minutes from Downtown Columbus, has a program for beginners.

Participants jump attached to an experienced sky diver. These “tandem” jumps require minimal training, he said.

“Tandem sky diving sort of revolutionized the sport,” Chapman said.

“Years ago, if you wanted to jump, you had to take a six- or eight-hour class and then try to remember everything. Now, you don’t have all that expense and risk. There’s a 15-minute briefing, then you get in the plane and do the jump.”

The highly trained instructors use top-notch gear and, of course, have a vested interest in the safety of the person they’re strapped to, Chapman said.

Tandem jumps open sky diving to people of all physical abilities, too, Chapman said.

“Almost any kind of person you can think of, I’ve attached them to me and jumped out of an airplane. From 18 to 80, blind, deaf, non-English speaking, veterans without legs and a surprising number of people who have never even been in an airplane before.

“All of my staff have other full-time jobs, so we all do it because of a passion for the sport. And when you land and that other person is just so overwhelmed with emotion, it takes you back to why you’re doing this.”

Rates start at $209 a person, with discounts for groups of two or more.

(Information: 614-203-0210, www.skydivecmh.com.)

Pleasurable paddle

For those who want to get close to nature, there are few places better than Big Darby Creek just west of Columbus, and there are few better places to see the National Scenic River than from on the water.

Trapper John’s Canoe Livery in Darbydale (Franklin County) has been offering canoe rides through the beautiful Darby Valley for decades. But recently, kayaking has become more popular, said livery owner Jason Kaufman.

“Kayaks are the hottest thing now,” Kaufman said.

“They go a little faster … and are a little more maneuverable” than a canoe, he said. And this year, the livery is adding two-person kayaks.

“The creek is very clean and free-flowing,” Kaufman noted.

“Most of the trip is through a metro park or nature preserve. When they come out here, people are amazed. We’re so close to Columbus, but when they get on the river, it seems like they’re as far from civilization as they can get.”

The livery offers trips of various lengths, including all-day floats and a “sampler,” which takes from one to two hours.

“The sampler is great for after work, or if you just want to give canoeing a try,” Kaufman said.

The livery operates seven days a week in season. Trips start at $15 per person, or $5 for children 6 (minimum age) to 12.

(Information: 614-877-4321 or visit www.trapperjohnscanoeing.com).

Rock ’n’ hold

Rock climbers can practice their sport in Downtown Columbus at the largest free outdoor climbing wall in the country, at Scioto Audubon Metro Park (Franklin County).

The 35-foot-high wall features about a dozen routes to the top. And where else can you climb an artificial “natural arch”?

Climbers must take their own ropes and equipment. The park offers a free course for novice climbers about once a month. Gear is provided, and the course includes the basics of equipment, knot-tying, climbing and belaying.

Metro Parks Director John O’Meara, himself an expert rock climber, said the wall provides challenges for all climbing styles and experience levels.

“It’s a fun climb — I always think of it as a big piece of playground equipment for adults,” O’Meara said. “And we have a series of boulders that are even good for little kids and don’t require safety gear.”

The wall is normally open from 9 a.m. to one hour before the park closes. But for those who like night climbing, the wall stays open until midnight on the second Friday of each month through November.

(Information: 614-891-0700, www.metroparks.net/parkssciotoaudubon.aspx)

Pedaling pastime

The flatlands of central Ohio are perfect for recreational bicycling, and the region offers many bike trails, including the

4-mile Genoa Trail that parallels state Rt. 3 on an abandoned railroad bed in Delaware County.

The trail passes a nature preserve and is known for bird and wildlife sightings. It also connects to several parks in the area.

(Information: www.ohiobikeways.net)



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