Oakes Quarry: Walking Through an Ohio Desert

Always obey the signs.

Here is a link to the trail map if you would to follow along as I retell my story. Feel free to download and print it out as well for your own use. Enjoy!

Note: All photos are from the October 2017 trip unless otherwise captioned. I have made a handful of repeat visits since then.

My first trip to Oakes Quarry Park was in October 2017. Located in Fairborn, Ohio. This is a stunning location for Southwest Ohio. Filled with natural history and wonderful hiking trails.

You may be wondering why I chose to blog about this nature place in particular compared to all the others I’ve been to, and it is simply because of the emotions and feelings felt were a little different. This place is unique for what it is.

Simply put, the first trip was quite a revelation for me. Oakes Quarry is unlike most other natural and scenic spots in the Dayton area. I was so used the wetlands, prairies, meadows and woods. This location has a dry and sparse, almost “desert” feel to the landscape and topography that I cannot resist enjoying.

In contrast, Oakes Quarry is the second largest park in Fairborn. Features include horseback trails and footpaths that take you around limestone fossils and fairly steep cliff faces. You may also fish here without a license. There is also a loop trail near the parking lot. The perimeter trail is 2 miles long and worth the repeat hikes.

A back trail at the northern side of the perimeter loop takes you through a densely wooded area with a stream crossing along the footpath. Eventually this leads to an opening at the neighborhood connected to Oakes Quarry.

A variety of bird and other wildlife are present there. Many woodland and grassland birds are found here along with white tailed deer, cottontail, red fox, coyote, raccoon, and red tailed hawk. Below is a small selection of birds I have been able to observe and photograph.

Invasive species removal and reforestation efforts have taken place over time to conserve and protect park developments. I hope this 190 acre park is preserved for decades to come.

Next let’s go back in history..

In 1929, the entire area was surface mined for limestone to make cement, eventually the land was sold to the Oakes family in the 1990’s. Then the family donated the land to the City of Fairborn in 2003.

So I made my way up north on a warm Autumn day. A sunny day with a gentle breeze.

This is the first real view of the park as you make your way through a narrow and (mostly) muddy trail. Soon you will make it to a clearing where you can diverge to the left, right, or straight ahead. I first chose to go forward where you make it to the edge of this lake.

Just stand there and take in the sights and views. Imagine stepping back in time 440 million years ago. Oakes Quarry was a coral reef in a shallow sea. It is simply amazing.

Next I took the way right down the middle to really feel the scale and size of this area. You can see from the image above in the center past the pond, there is a smallish hill that takes you towards the right of the perimeter trail. The rocks are where I stopped and took these photos.

Choosing to press on down the middle of the park, I made it to the far side where tall limestone cliffs are met with crinoid fossil piles. You can spend hours searching the fossil piles and discovering new ones underneath.

This crooked sign warns visitors that rocks may fall and hit you, and that you shouldn’t be climbing or scaling the walls, although I’ve never seen either happen.

A few small hills lead you up to the grand view and spectacle seen below..

It is from this perch where I sat and read a National Geographic Traveler magazine as the sun went down. I spent the majority of that day hiking in awe of this place. Every subsequent visit has been met with this same feeling. Nature is a powerful force to experience!

Graffiti on the rocks is fairly common at Oakes Quarry, December 2018

Oakes Quarry Park is the northernmost section of the Beaver Creek Wetland Corridor and presents unique habitat and green space. Lovers of geology will find the crinoid-era fossils at this site to be one of the best to study in the U.S.

Fossil-diggers, hikers, birders, nature photographers, a quiet evening with your loved one, the list goes on and on. You get the point, I adore this place, and you might too.

For more information and directions about the park, visit

Sunset Landscape, December 2018

Have you been here before? What makes this an awesome location to hike and explore? What is your favorite part of the park?

Leave a comment down below, I can’t wait to hear from you!

Take care and get out there.

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Published by Ryan Taylor

Ryan Taylor is a 26 year old photographer located in Beavercreek Ohio, United States. Specializing in wildlife and landscapes both big and small, Ryan has sought to capture many different natural locations throughout the Buckeye State and beyond.

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