Last week my column was devoted to some of the best hiking trails in the state. I missed a few, judging from the feedback from readers.
In case you missed it, last week’s story included: the Ouachita National Recreation Trail, the Elk Mountain Trail and two others in the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, Inspiration Point Trail at Roman Nose State Park, the Summit Trail at Black Mesa State Park, trails at Robbers Cave State Park, the trail system at McGee Creek Natural Scenic Recreation Area, the Granite Hills Trails system at Great Plains State Park and the Friends Trail Loop at Beavers Bend State Park.
Here is the best of the rest.
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Greenleaf State Park Trails
The trails system at Greenleaf State Park was the most notable omission from the previous list, at least based on readers’ comments.
More than one reader recommended the hiking trails at Greenleaf State Park in eastern Oklahoma near Braggs.
“Any starting backpacker should check out the Greenleaf State Park trail loop,” said Darrin Hill, a videographer for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation who leads Boy Scout troops on hiking and camping trips.
The most challenging trail is the Greenleaf Trail Full Loop, an 18-mile hiking trek that begins inside the park and makes its way around the 930-acre Greenleaf Lake and into the adjacent government land of Camp Gruber.
It takes more than seven hours to complete on average with an elevation gain of almost 1,900 feet. Part of the trail can be very primitive. It might require some bushwacking along the way in addition to getting wet while crossing creeks.
If you want something less strenuous, Greenleaf State Park also has other trails rated easy to moderate in difficulty, and backpackers can hike shorter segments of the full loop.
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Beech Creek Natural Scenic and Botanical Area
This 7,500-acre scenic area in the Ouachita National Forest in southeastern Oklahoma is known for its beautiful old beech trees. Located near Big Cedar, there are 32 miles of interconnecting hiking trails through different ecosystems along the headwaters of Beech Creek.
Within the scenic area is a special zone, the 400-acre Beech Creek Botanical Area. An old forest road winds through the Scenic Area, providing hiking opportunities to view the natural beauty.
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The Old Military Road
This trail in southeastern Oklahoma is part of the Ouachita Mountains trail system. The trail leads hikers through a towering pine forest, up the side of Winding Stair Mountain. It can be done as an out-and-back hike of about 13 miles or point-to-point with a car drop at either 6.5 or 8 miles.
It can also be made part of a 23-mile backpacking loop by joining the Old Military Trail with the Ouachita Trail and the Boardstand Trail; a rugged two- or three-day adventure.
The trail generally follows the route of the road that was built by the U.S. Military in 1832 to connect Fort Smith, Arkansas, with Fort Towson in Indian Territory. To reach the trailhead, travel north on US Highway 271 about 3 miles from the intersection with SH 1 (Talimena Drive), turn east onto Holson Valley Road and proceed for about 3 miles.
There is a sign on the south side of Holson Valley Road marking the Boardstand Trail. The Old Military Road Trail begins at the same trailhead, and there is a parking area at the trailhead.
The Boardstand Trail that begins at the same trailhead angles up Winding Stair Mountain to the east and offers another good hike.
“The Old Military Trail Loop is a great trail,” Hill said.
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Baldy Point Loop
A 1.3-mile trail in the Quartz Mountain Nature Park near Granite, the Baldy Point Loop is considered moderately challenging with beautiful views of the mountains. Trekking poles and hiking boots are a good idea to traverse the gravel. The boulders in the area are a popular spot for climbing.
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Keystone Ancient Natural Forest
Managed by The Nature Conservancy, this 1,360-acre nature preserve near Sand Springs provides hiking through 500-year-old cedars and 300-year-old post oak trees.
Volunteer trail guides staff the parking lot and monitor each hike event. You can hike alone, or if there are enough trail guides available and you choose to, someone may hike with you to help interpret the forest landscape and this interpretative project in the making.
Hiking is allowed from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Thursdays and from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Fridays through Sundays. No reservations are needed.
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Bison Loop Trail
While last week’s column included the popular Elk Mountain Trail in the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, another outstanding trail on the refuge is the Bison Loop Trail.
The 6.1-mile loop features a hike on rugged terrain past several lakes and rivers on the refuge.
While the Elk Mountain Trail and the Charon’s Garden Trail are more popular within the refuge, Hill is a fan of the Bison Loop Trail.
“I love just trekking along the Bison Loop Trail in the Wichita Mountains,” Hill said. “There is plenty of opportunity to twist an ankle on the Bison Loop, especially with a full backpack, but it’s beautiful, although sometimes very busy.”
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Arcadia, Thunderbird and Martin Park
If you don’t want to drive a great distance from Oklahoma City to take a hike, check out the hiking and biking trails at the Martin Park Nature Center, Arcadia Lake and Lake Thunderbird.
The Martin Park Nature Center in Oklahoma City has three hiking trails, including one that features broadened walkways and boardwalks suitable for visitors in wheelchairs. Hiking trails lead visitors around a large pond and along bubbling Spring Creek, wildflower meadows and through the park’s woodlands.
The Arcadia Lake multiple-use trail in Edmond was designed to be used by mountain bikers, but it’s also popular with hikers and runners.
Lake Thunderbird State Park near Norman has several nature trails ranging from one to four miles in length that provide a walk through the woods.
For a good resource about hiking trails in Oklahoma, pick up a copy of the book, Oklahoma Hiking Trails, by Kent Frates and Larry Floyd.
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