Take a hike

State parks of­fer hik­ing trails.

The Oklahoman (Sunday) - - SUNDAY LIFE - BY DINO LALLI For The Ok­la­homan Dino Lalli is the pro­ducer, co­host and one of the re­porters for the travel pro­gram DIS­COVER OK­LA­HOMA.

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.

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