What Makes a Park? Sycamore Bluffs

I’m not going to lie to you – getting outside can be tough sometimes. After a long day, our couches relentlessly call our names, begging us for relaxation. But our couches don’t always know what’s best for us. In fact, I’d argue that nature recharges us in ways our sofas never will.

I recently found myself floating through the remorseless dog days of summer. Scorching 90-degree temperatures and air so humid I could cut through it with a knife. I couldn’t bear to wander outside most days. Not as long as the air conditioner was running, at least.

As a rising senior at Miami University, the emptiness of my days was soon to be filled with classes, homework, and meetings. I was looking forward to it, in a way. The start of the semester brought a new routine, reconnection with friends, and, you guessed it, cooler temperatures.

My travels back to Oxford, Ohio, led me back outside. After a move-in day walk around campus, I headed to the Sycamore Bluffs area of Four Mile Creek MetroPark. With the Bluff Trail freshly opened, I was ready to explore a new area of Oxford – a place I’ve grown to know well over the past few years. In fact, I consider myself a “townie” at this point, no longer a tourist. But every time I return to Oxford’s streets, I notice myself falling deeper in love with everything it offers here. The uptown farmer’s market. The bustling stream of students on campus. The green spaces.

Sometimes, all we need is a little change in routine to excite us about the outdoors. Many of us visit our community’s parks more times than we can count. But why not venture outside when we find ourselves in a “different neck of the woods?” Nature offers us different perspectives. It’s important that we adopt them to see the world in its fullest beauty.

For some, Oxford may be a drive beyond one’s common whereabouts. But I promise the green spaces here are worth the trek. Four Mile Creek MetroPark offers varying landscapes, all within the vicinity of Oxford. The Mill Race Preserve area of the park is known for its vibrant wildflower fields, while Sycamore Bluffs is characterized by its woodsy trails and creek views.

My trip to Sycamore Bluffs began how my new park visits always do – scoping out the trails. As an avid hiker and runner, I’ve come to appreciate the uniqueness of the paths I take. A change of scenery can make all the difference on our journeys. Sycamore Bluffs offers two trails – the Creek Trail and the Bluff Trail.

The Creek Trail is a 0.2-mile out-and-back path that takes you along the banks of Four Mile Creek. With plenty of spots for sightseeing and fishing, I took my time soaking in the surroundings and listening to the wildlife. The water was glass-like, offering mirror reflections of the overlooking trees. I sat near the creek and closed my eyes, appreciating the peace this space offered.

Nearby is the trailhead for the Bluff Trail – a 1.3-mile loop around the park. Recently opened in July 2023, the path ventures through shaded woods and wildflower fields. There are even some beautiful overlook points of the landscapes below.

Living in the city or even the suburbs, secluded trails are hard to come by. Four Mile Creek MetroPark makes nature accessible with its various sections and changing landscapes. To discover what makes a park, we must be willing to not just venture outside, but venture outside our comfort zones. Sometimes, visiting a new park is all we need to see the limitless ways nature reveals its beauty to us.

Addy Werling

Addy is a junior at Miami University in Oxford with a major in marketing. She recently joined the MetroParks team as an intern in the summer of 2022. With a love for writing and connecting with others, she has helped MetroParks in the creation of their very first blog, Footprints. Although she had only set foot in one MetroPark when she began, she is excited to explore new green spaces here in Butler County and showcase them on the blog. Outside of work, Addy enjoys spending time outside, camping, running, hiking, and playing with her dog, Max. She appreciates you taking the time to read her content on the blog and hopes that through this platform, we all can find a renewed gratitude for the outdoors.


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