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Gallant Woods Park History

As we reflect on the 50th anniversary of Preservation Parks, we are sharing brief histories of how each park came together. Look for a different park each month and then be sure to enjoy a special staff-led hike or program in that park.

Gallant Woods Park History

Gallant Woods Park opened to its first visitors in 2005—the same year the first person to fly an airplane non-stop around the world solo without refueling and a group of college students launched YouTube. This park gem, north of the city of Delaware, opened as just the fifth park within the Park District.

It all began when Preservation Parks received a generous gift of 82.6 acres of woodlands south of Buttermilk Hill Road from Ms. Charlotte Gallant—land that had been in her family for generations—in 1997. Within the next two years, an additional 101.5 adjoining acres were purchased using funds from the same anonymous donor who allowed us to purchase Blues Creek Park, as well as two nearby 11-acre lots from Dale & Evelyn Walters. This series of land acquisitions quickly brought the size of Gallant Woods to a little over 200 acres. In 2005 an adjoining 25 acres were purchased to the east of Buttermilk Hill Road from Fred & Judy Hines as a life estate, bringing Gallant Woods to the size it is today (231 acres).

Prior to the park’s opening, a small farmhouse on the property was removed and a modular office, donated by Genoa Township, was remodeled into the Nature Discovery Center, providing future guests with a space to encounter and learn about the natural world. At this time, a playground was installed, and a picnic shelter (available for rental) and trails were constructed. Shortly thereafter, Gallant Woods Park was officially open for visitors to enjoy Charlotte’s Woods (the eastern woodlot) and Walters’ Grove (the western woodlot), along with acres of prairie and meadow habitat.

In the years since, improvements have continued at Gallant Woods. In 2006, a maintenance facility was constructed to provide additional storage and a workspace for our Natural Resources and Operations Departments (now only Operations works from this facility). The following year, a sledding hill was constructed using donated funds. In addition to its popularity as a sledding spot during the winter, this hill is also converted into a slip-and-slide during Preservation Parks’ annual Adventure Run. In 2008, the gravel park entrance drive was paved using designated funds for Ohio’s metro parks from the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT), allowing for easy access into the park.

From 2009-2019 there were several wetland construction and tile removal projects.  Overall, over 2 miles of drain tiles were removed, and 11 separate wetlands totaling 11 acres were constructed.  All the wetland construction projects occurred in hydric (wet) soils, indicating the potential location of the original wetlands.

In 2010, parking and trail accommodations were expanded with the addition of a second parking lot by the sledding hill and a footbridge and gravel trail to the picnic shelter.

The following year saw the completion of a permanent interpretive display, known as the Gateway, detailing the natural and historic features of the park. This structure was designed to be a “gateway into the forest,” through which all visitors would traverse. The Interpretive Gateway introduces visitors to wetland habitats and describes the transition from farmland to restored native habitat. Visitors can look and listen for wood thrush and barred owls in the woodlands, eastern bluebirds in the prairies, and chorus frog, gray treefrog, small-mouth salamanders, and fairy shrimp in the wetlands and vernal pools.

With the construction of the Deer Haven Park Visitor Center, the temporary Nature Discovery Center no longer served a need and was removed.  The deck of the Discovery Center was later recycled into a boardwalk overlooking one of Gallant Woods’ many wetlands.

Even more trails and wetland boardwalks, expanding upon the existing trails throughout the park were constructed in 2011. When Gallant Farm opened in 2012, a connector trail leading across Buttermilk Hill Road was constructed to allow direct access from one park to the other. Later, in 2017, a series of primitive trails were constructed, thus providing direct access to the denser parts of Charlotte’s Woods. The most recent addition to Gallant Woods was the Mindfulness Trail in 2021, complete with meditative signage and relaxing activities. This addition was in partnership with the Delaware and Morrow Mental Health and Recovery Services Board and the Delaware County Probate Court.

Gallant Woods Park is currently the largest open park managed by Preservation Parks. Its extensive trail network, flourishing wetland system, and proximity to Gallant Farm make it a wonderful spot to visit for people of all ages. The park is home to the summer concert series which began in 2009 and the Adventure Run which began in 2017, among other seasonal programs.

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