Photo courtesy Experience Columbus

The World's First Urban Via Ferrata Takes You High Above Columbus, Ohio

by Tim Wenger Jun 4, 2024

Urban climbing typically means little more than bouldering on small rocks in city parks. Columbus, Ohio, has redefined the concept with the world’s first large-scale via ferrata, now open in Quarry Trails park in the northwest part of the city. The route first opened in 2021 as part of the larger Quarry Trails area that also includes hiking, mountain biking, kayaking, and other outdoor opportunities – all within the Columbus metro area.

The Quarry Trails via ferrata – Italian for “iron way” – offers a unique blend of exhilarating heights and challenging climbs. You’ll traverse metal rungs, ladders, and cables, all while secured to a safety line. Be prepared to exert yourself – climbing the course is good exercise – but know that the guides will ensure your safety and the provided equipment will keep you comfortable. It’s a great way to experience a taste of rock climbing in a secured environment while rewarded with incredible scenery.

What to know about the Quarry Trails via ferrata

Photo courtesy Experience Columbus
Photo courtesy Experience Columbus

If you’ve never climbed a via ferrata route, it’s effectively “rock climbing lite.” Climbers traverse and ascend the fixed course routed by a steel cable, climbing up ladders, rungs, and rock while fastened to the cable via carabiners and a harness. The Quarry Trails via ferrata course leads climbers across 1,040 feet of course over what MetroParks, which operates the via ferrata, describes as “intermediate rocky terrain.” Highlights of the climb include a 54-foot steel staircase that will put your bootwork to the test and a 90-foot-long suspension bridge that you’ll use legs and hands to climb across while fastened into the course route.

MetroParks notes that it takes most users about 90 minutes to climb the course. Keep in mind that once you’re at the top you must climb back down – though this process is much faster and quite fun. You must register in advance and will be led by a guide up the climb, though registration is currently free. Kids over 14 are welcome, as long as they’re at least five feet tall and weigh 88 pounds or more.

climbers on quarry trails via ferrata

Photo courtesy Experience Columbus

At points during the climb, you’ll be more than 100 feet above the ground below – and there’s also the bridge crossing over a scenic pond. All climbers will be outfitted with a helmet, harness, and any needed safety equipment. You should bring your own sunglasses and gloves, as the cable and bridge are better handled by protected hands. There’s no better way to feel like you’re high in the alpine when you’re actually in central Ohio.

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