Take a hike
State parks offer hiking trails.
Autumn weather just gets us stirring around, doesn’t it? Perhaps it all originates with that preparation for the change of season. Various creatures such as squirrels start packing away supplies for the winter, but we humans may be seeking a little food for the soul as we can see the gray winter days that will keep us housebound coming straight at us.
The timing couldn’t be better as we all seem to receive this pre-winter burst of energy because, let’s face it, fall is arguably the best season for outdoor activity. The summer heat is behind us; leaves are changing, active wildlife abounds and the air is full of the aromas of the autumn season. And taking a hike along an Oklahoma trail is a very good way to welcome fall and enjoy the outdoors a few steps ahead of winter.
Now, when it comes to hiking, it’s certainly an activity that can be enjoyed all over the state throughout the year. But taking a hike while being able to enjoy the turning of the fall leaves, just makes the hike more peaceful it seems. When hiking, your mind can settle into the peaceful cadence of your leisurely stride. You can relish in the serenity of being outdoors and embrace the opportunities that lie ahead.
With that, southeastern Oklahoma offers some wonderful short hikes and a few longer walks. Robbers Cave State Park in Wilburton has one of the more elaborate trail systems as a whole. It has about 12 miles of hiking trails, which include multiuse trails. But for now, we’re going to stick to just hiking trails. The hiking trails take you through the hardwood and pine forest, past the cave itself and man oh man, do you get some spectacular views from the rocky cliffs. The trails through Robbers Cave State Park are considered to be intermediate, but you can judge your own abilities and walk as much, or as little, as you can stand. The terrain, though, can get fairly rugged at times.
A little farther south at Beavers Bend State Park, you can find about 30 miles of trails, which can take you not only through the very pretty rolling hills but along the shores of one of Oklahoma’s most beautiful lakes. And in keeping with the southeastern Oklahoma area, the Horsethief Springs Trail in Heavener is picturesque and winds through the Mountains of Ouachita National Forest. This particular trail is considered by many to be a demanding hike, but if are looking for rugged, this would do it!
Another popular area with hikers is Osage Hills State Park near Pawhuska. There are trails just for hikers, which are separate from the park’s mountain biking trails. This area is rather hilly, so hikers new to the area would enjoy knowing that the trails here present somewhat of a moderate challenge. In all, there are aboutfive miles in the hiking trail system at Osage Hills State Park. And while you’re in the area, don’t forget to take a hike through the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve, also near Pawhuska. Autumn on the prairie is different from autumn in the forest, but it is just as beautiful. You’ll find an incredible range of colors at the prairie as the colors go from gold to red and all shades in between.
For a contract in terrain and landscape, don’t forget western Oklahoma for a hiking trip. Hiking through Black Mesa State Park in Kenton can be an easy walk, but the trail up nearby Black Mesa is a challenging one — one that would be better to try in the fall.
For other ideas for a hiking adventure, consider Martin Nature Park in Oklahoma City; Oxley Nature Center in Tulsa; the Chickasaw National Recreation Area in Sulphur or the McGee Creek Natural Scenic Recreation Area in Atoka.
You can find more information on hiking, including articles that break trails down by difficulty, on the official website for the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department, www.travelok.com. While on the website, you can order the Oklahoma State Parks & Outdoor Recreation Guide, which includes a section on hiking.
At Beavers Bend State Park, you can find about 30 miles of hiking trails.
Robbers Cave State Park in Wilburton has about 12 miles of hiking trails, which includes multiuse trails.