EX­PLOR­ING GREENLEAF PARK

The hik­ing trails of­fer seclu­sion and scenery

The Oklahoman (Sunday) - - ED GODFREY’S OUTDOORS - BY KENT FRATES

If you are look­ing for an in­ter­est­ing and chal­leng­ing hike, or just a week­end get­away, try Greenleaf State Park.

About a two hour and 30 minute drive from Ok­la­homa City south of Musko­gee, the park is lo­cated on State High­way 10 be­tween Braggs to the north­west and Gore to the south.

As well as hik­ing, fish­ing and swim­ming, the park also pro­vides op­por­tu­ni­ties to play vol­ley­ball, soft­ball and bas­ket­ball and pitch horse­shoes. Cab­ins and camp­sites are lo­cated in the park.

Greenleaf Lake is 930 acres and has bass, cat­fish and crap­pie. There is a fish­ing pier on Greenleaf Lake that is open year-round at no charge. Fish­ing boats, ca­noes, kayaks and pad­dle boats are avail­able for rent.

The south loop of heav­ily wooded Greenleaf Lake Trail crosses more than nine miles of se­cluded, un­even ter­rain. Al­though the trail is gen­er­ally con­sid­ered part of Greenleaf State Park, much of the route ac­tu­ally lies within the Gru­ber State Game Man­age­ment Area.

Most of this hik­ing area is on the east side of Greenleaf Lake, south­east of Greenleaf State Park.

A word of warn­ing: If you tra­verse these trails in the sum­mer, be sure to bring lots of bug re­pel­lent and pow­dered sul­fur. Lush un­der­brush, thick woods and nearby Greenleaf Lake pro­vide a haven for chig­gers, ticks and mos­qui­toes.

Chig­gers seem to be the big­gest threat. If you ex­plore these woods with un­cov­ered legs and with­out re­pel­lent, ex­pect sev­eral dozen chig­ger bites and about 10 days of itch­ing tor­ment.

You should also be aware that the area around the trail is near Camp Gru­ber, an Army camp. It is oc­ca­sion­ally used by the Army Na­tional Guard for train­ing ex­er­cises, so it is best to check with park head­quar­ters in ad­vance to make sure the trail is avail­able for hik­ing.

The Greenleaf Lake Trail trail­head can be ac­cessed about one mile south of the main en­trance to Greenleaf State Park. Exit east from SH 10 just south of the Greenleaf Creek Bridge and fol­low the un­marked, very rough road north to the south edge of Greenleaf Lake.

The road off of SH 10 is un­marked, so look care­fully for the turn which an­gles north­east. Park at the end of the road and look for the blue blazes lead­ing east through the woods. The trail is gen­er­ally well-marked, and prim­i­tive camp­sites are avail­able along the way.

Take the trail along the south shore­line a lit­tle over one mile to a sus­pen­sion bridge. Cross the bridge and fol­low the blue blazes to the left (north) for the clock­wise south loop, which re­turns to the sus­pen­sion bridge from the north­east.

It takes more than a ca­sual glance to spot the mark­ers on the trees, but the worn path­way pro­vides a guide along most of the trail.

The west side of the south loop of­fers sev­eral scenic views of the lake. The en­tire trail cuts through heavy woods and some tall grass. At about four miles, you will come to Mary’s Cove, where there is an area of wellused fire rings and log benches.

At this point, look for a small sign and white blazes that mark a con­nect­ing trail that pro­ceeds to the east. This trail leads in and out of creek bed for about half of a mile. You will then in­ter­sect more blue blazes and turn south on the east side of the loop back to the trail­head.

Along the east­ern part of this loop you can’t see the lake. The trail zigzags as it re­turns to the sus­pen­sion bridge. Some steep, short grades must be as­cended a few miles be­fore the trail loops back to the bridge.

If you want to pur­sue a longer hike for overnight camp­ing, you can con­tinue to fol­low the blue blazes north at Mary’s Cove for an ad­di­tional seven-mile loop. How­ever, the north loop is lit­tle used, poorly marked and not well-main­tained.

All in all, this trail pro­vides a tran­quil and not overly tax­ing jour­ney through thick woods with oc­ca­sional post­card views of Greenleaf Lake. But don’t for­get the bug re­pel­lent.

Edi­tor’s Note: Kent Frates is co-au­thor with Larry Floyd of Ok­la­homa Hik­ing Trails.

[PHOTO BY DANIELLE HUD­DLE­STON]

Hik­ers tra­verse the trail in Greenleaf State Park.

[PHOTO BY DANIELLE HUD­DLE­STON]

The hik­ing trail at Greenleaf State Park of­fers some scenic views of the lake.

[PHOTO BY LORI DUCK­WORTH, OK­LA­HOMA TOURISM AND RE­CRE­ATION DEPART­MENT]

Greenleaf State Park of­fers a fish­ing pier for guests and boat rentals.

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