Eric Moenich, For The Miami Student

The seventh annual Hike-A-Thon is coming to the Oxford area this Saturday to celebrate the beauty of Miami University’s campus and the surrounding natural areas.

With over 1,000 acres of land and 17 miles of hiking trails, there is certainly a reason why Robert Frost said that Miami is “the most beautiful campus that ever there was.”

The Miami University Natural Areas Department is dedicated to raising awareness for all of the beauty that Oxford has to offer.

“Many students will graduate not knowing about these areas until later in life and wish that they experienced them before,” Field Manager Jim Reid said, who takes care of the entirety of the natural areas and started the first Hike-A-Thon about six years ago. “We hope that this event will allow students to discover a place for exercise, solace or just appreciating beauty.”

With last year’s event bringing in nearly 800 participants from the Indiana, Hamilton, Cincinnati and Oxford areas, Reid said he and his crew are very excited for this year’s Hike-A-Thon. Some of the events included in the Hike-A-Thon are one to five mile walks, nature hikes, Audubon-led Bird Walks and free neck massages. There will also be refreshments provided by Moon Co-op.

“Generally, about half of the attendees have never been to the natural areas before,” Reid said. “We hope that these students can discover a place of joy and beauty that they can enjoy during their time at Miami.”

David Russell, a Zoology professor at Miami, said he is also involved with the project and sees it as an important opportunity for Miami students to appreciate the world around them.

“Many people are unfamiliar with the natural beauty here on campus,” Russell said. “We have a chance to experience this beauty in the world around us. Anybody who has the opportunity should go. Not only is it a fun way to get the community together, it’s worthwhile to see the gorgeous trails and nature here at Miami.”

Russell leads the bird walks at the Hike-A-Thon during which he introduces community members to the wide variety of migratory birds that pass through Oxford on their way to warmer climates such as those found in South America.

In addition to the faculty and staff taking part in the Hike-A-Thon, many students also volunteer to make the project possible. Sophomore zoology major Ben Glazier maintains and grooms the eastern half of the trails on campus as a field worker and said he hopes to see more people coming out to appreciate Miami’s natural areas.

“From time to time I see different athletic teams using the trails, and I’d like to see more people on them,” Glazier said. “We hope to get students involved, interested and aware of these areas; many students don’t realize what is out there. Also, I spend a lot of time keeping the trails pretty.”

The natural areas themselves were gifted to Miami from Oxford families that wanted to preserve the beautiful landscape. Since then, many clubs, athletes, photographers and researchers on campus have used them. The Miami University Natural Areas Department is eager to bring students and community members alike to participate in the event.

The Hike-A-Thon will take place Saturday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m 0.7 miles east of South Patterson Avenue on Rt. 73, past Ditmer Field and the Equestrian Center. The event is completely free and open to everyone, including friendly dogs on leashes, no registry is required and all participants also receive a free t shirt.