Local Options Abound on Take a Hike Day

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Hueston Woods, captured on an icy Thursday afternoon, has been a state park since 1957. Photo by Patrick Keck

By Patrick Keck

This Saturday, Nov. 17, Hueston Woods State Park will host a hike from its Nature Center in celebration of National Take a Hike Day.

Starting at 2 p.m., Kathyrn Zeppernick, a naturalist at the park, will lead hikers on an hour-long hike on one of the park’s more popular trails.

Shawn Conner, another naturalist at Hueston Woods, said that this is the first year that the park has done anything for National Take a Hike Day.

“We do many hikes throughout the year,” said Conner. “But we typically wait and see who comes to decide which trail we’ll go on.”

The hike is open to the general public and the distance will be determined by which of the 12 Hueston Woods trails that the group decides.

To preserve the trails, Conner said that volunteers come to clear out fallen trees or help  control certain species living in the park.

The Mudlick Trail is one of a dozen hiking trails at Hueston Woods State Park. Photo by Patrick Keck

According to Miami University Natural Areas, there are also 17 miles of trails on campus, which are used by both Miami University students and townspeople to run, walk, or hike. Hueston Woods has trails varying between 0.6 and 2.2 miles of easy to moderate difficulties, with an 18-mile bridle trail and 20-mile mountain biking trail.

The use of trails has become more popular in recent months, first set off by the passing of the Issue II tax levy on May 10.

According to the Oxford Area Trails, a group of Oxford citizens dedicated to the planning of a trail network in the city, the goal of Issue II is to create a 12-mile paved trail surrounding the town in the next 10 years. Of the nearly 2,000 people who voted on the issue, 69 percent favored its passage.

Sam Perry, Oxford’s community development director, said the levy passed with such a majority because “it has been something the community has wanted for a long time.”

Hiking is promoted by the city and Miami University because it allows families to spend time enjoying the outdoors, but it is also an activity with countless health benefits.

The American Hiking Society (AHS) found that hiking decreased anxiety and lowered cholesterol levels and blood pressure, all with minimal stress on the body.

AHS celebrated the 50th anniversary of the National Trails Day, another popular day for hiking, on the first Saturday of June last year to note the passage of the National Trails System Act in 1968. Next year’s National Trails Day will be on June 1.

According to research from the University of Washington, women with osteoporosis who walked for at least one hour three days per week “increased their bone density by six percent over a nine-month period.”

For Conner, hiking is “the easiest way to do recreation,” but also an activity that is cheap, close to most people, and a great way to get out in nature.