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When you think about hitting the hiking trails, Oklahoma may not be the first destination that comes to mind. Yet, this state holds an array of diverse and stunning landscapes waiting to be explored.
From the glistening selenite-capped peaks in Gloss Mountain State Park to the ancient granite formations of the Wichita Mountains, Oklahoma offers a hiking experience that’s uniquely it’s own.
Let’s venture into four of the most scenic hiking spots in Oklahoma.
Hiking Through Time: The Wichita Mountains
Located about 100 miles southwest of Oklahoma City, the Wichita Mountains majestically stand where prairie grasses meet granite peaks, some of which are 540 million years old. Over 15 miles of trails cut through the landscape, inviting hikers to explore the vast variety of terrain, from canyons, streams, and mountains to grasslands and lakes.
Trail options vary, offering something for every level of adventurer. Shorter trails that start at the visitor center are perfect for families with children. For those seeking a longer trek, there are one, two, and four-hour trails through the preserve.
For the more ambitious, trails through Charon’s Gardens Wilderness Area present a thrilling challenge. Just remember to carry a map and plenty of water, as these trails can easily be mistaken for game trails, and phone coverage is quite limited.
The Glowing Peaks of Gloss Mountain State Park
The Gloss Mountains, found in central Oklahoma, are known for their fiery hue and glossy surface created by layers of selenite. The mesas and buttes, some reaching up to 1,600 feet, form the breathtaking landscape of Gloss Mountain State Park.
Unlike the Wichita Mountains, there’s only one trail in this park: the Cathedral Mountain trail. Despite its brevity, this 1.2-mile round trip offers awe-inspiring views of these unique mountains and is a goldmine for photographers.
However, keep in mind that there’s no shade on this trail, so it’s best visited during the cooler winter months or at sunrise or sunset.
History-Rich Hiking: Robbers Cave State Park
True to its name, Robbers Cave State Park is steeped in outlaw history. But its narrative extends beyond the lore and into the realm of natural splendor. The park is home to a myriad of stunning views of scenic Lake Carlton and the San Bois Mountains.
Always keep a map handy and stick to the trails marked with blue-blazed trees. Going off the beaten path could lead to treacherous climbs and steep drop-offs – unless, of course, you’re up for that kind of challenge.
The Hidden Gem: McGee Creek Natural Scenic Recreation Area Loop
The lesser-known McGee Creek Natural Scenic Recreation Area is a hiker’s paradise, featuring over 25 miles of trails and numerous camping areas. Its diverse landscape includes scenic creek beds, rock formations, canyons, and stunning overlooks.
With so much ground to cover, you can either choose to tackle a portion of the trail for a day trip or backpack through the entire system over a couple of days. But be warned – if luxury camping is more your style, the campsites here offer virtually no amenities.
The beauty of Oklahoma’s hiking trails is only beginning to be appreciated. As you lace up your hiking boots and prepare to take on these trails, remember: each hike is a step into the diverse and ever-changing landscape that is Oklahoma. And if you discover other gems along the way, we’d love to hear about them!