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<p>Anecdotally, Marcum Loop has the most deer of any natural area in Oxford.</p>

When I came to Miami University in fall 2020, there wasn’t much to do. Most of my classes were on Zoom, so I spent a lot of time just sitting in my residence hall room.

Then, I discovered Miami and Oxford’s trails.

That year, I went on walks every day. With classes mostly in person in 2021-2022, I’ve gotten away from that a bit, but I still go pretty regularly. It’s a habit I think everyone can benefit from, and with that in mind, here’s what I’ve learned about which areas are the best for walking and why.

Marcum Loop

Photo by Sean Scott | The Miami Student

Anecdotally, Marcum Loop has the most deer of any natural area in Oxford.

This is by far the best path if you want to see deer (and who doesn’t?). It’s behind the Marcum Hotel and Conference Center, and the path down to Four Mile Creek is a bit annoying to climb back up, but it’s definitely worth it.

In a manageable length, this trail has everything: deer, a bench on top of a hill, a bench next to the creek, mushrooms, deer, a boardwalk in the middle of the woods, bridges over ravines, deer. If you’re only going to commit to one trail, it should be this one.

Peffer Woods Trails

Photo by Sean Scott | The Miami Student
Peffer Park's trails are full of little stone structures.

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Peffer Park has a couple trails to choose from. If you go down the trail off the parking lot, you can do a loop that circles around a some sort of obstacle course, passes by a cemetery and overlooks a creek from 40 feet up.

My recommendation, though, would be the path behind the bonfire pit. You’ll have to jump over a stream, but it’ll lead you up to a cliff even higher and closer to the edge than the parking lot loop. Plus, there are some cool stone structures along the way.

Bachelor Preserve Pine Loop

Photo by Sean Scott | The Miami Student
The best feature of the Bachelor Preserve Pine Loop is this bench that sits on top of a hill.

This trail is a pretty easy walk, and it makes you feel like you’re in the middle of nowhere. My favorite part is the bench in the middle of the woods on top of a hill.

Bachelor Preserve East Loop

Photo by Sean Scott | The Miami Student
The suspended bridge is a staple of the Bachelor Preserve East Loop.

The longer of the Bachelor Preserve options, this path takes you over Harker’s Run Creek not once but twice. The first time is on big concrete stepping stones, and the second is across a suspended bridge.

This trail is pretty long but worth it. It’ll also lead you past a deer exclosure and Bachelor Pond. I’ve seen people skating on it in the winter, and while it doesn’t sound fun to lug a pair of skates out with you, that seems like a cool option for people who want to try, if not the most safe.

Oxford Area Trails System (OATS)

If the thought of thin dirt paths through the woods isn’t appealing to you, the OATS is for you. One of Oxford’s biggest long-term projects, these wide paved trails will eventually circle the entire town. They’re a bit busier than the woodsy paths, but the leg behind Western Campus which connects to Peffer Park is especially worth it.

The Black Covered Bridge

Photo by Sean Scott | The Miami Student
The Black Covered Bridge is both a historic location and the trailhead of the Oxford Area Trail System.

Depending on where you live on campus, this one’s a bit out of the way but definitely worth it. It’s the start of the OATS (for now), and as you might expect, is a long covered bridge over Four Mile Creek.

If you keep following the trail west, it’ll lead you around Yager Stadium and give you a couple options to either turn back to North Quad or keep going on the OATS.

Behind the Equestrian Center

Photo by Sean Scott | The Miami Student
The path behind the equestrian center is a must-walk in spring when turtles hang out on the shores.

If you take the path that connects the Marcum Loop to the OATS near DeWitt Cabin, it’ll lead you behind the equestrian center and along Four Mile Creek. This is an especially good option in the spring because a family of turtles lives across the water and loves to sunbathe on the shore.