EXPLORING GREENLEAF PARK
The hiking trails offer seclusion and scenery
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.
Hikers traverse the trail in Greenleaf State Park.
The hiking trail at Greenleaf State Park offers some scenic views of the lake.
Greenleaf State Park offers a fishing pier for guests and boat rentals.