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GET OFF THE BEATEN PATH


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or those looking for a good workout and a bit of backcountry experience, there are a variety of wilderness hiking and camping options in Oklahoma. One of the premier locations is


in the Charon’s Garden Wilderness Area of the Wichita Moun- tains. This federally controlled hiking area is accessible for day hikes, and overnight camping is available with a prior reserva- tion. Hikers can expect to see buffalo, elk, turkey and a host of other wildlife in the area. The rocky ground is left much the way it was before statehood and one can imagine a Comanche warrior on a painted horse stopping for water in the 1870s. “There are great trails all across Oklahoma,” Oklahoma


Electric Cooperative member and Norman, Okla., resident Susan Dragoo says. “My favorite is the Ouachita Mountain Trail that starts in Talihina and goes all the way through Arkansas. Nature Conservancy also offers great day hikes into their land. The Wichita Mountains is a popular favorite hiking and camping spot. The Backwoods store in Norman even has a hiking club that organizes great hikes, and the Friends of the Wichitas reg- ularly offer organized hikes that are easy enough for anyone to join.”


Gearing Up


While hiking only requires a pair of shoes and the will to hike, quality hiking and camping gear makes the experience much more enjoyable. Hiking and camping gear can be purchased at most outdoor retailers. More specialized gear can be found at retailers such as Backwoods, Sun and Ski Sports, Green Beetle Gear and Summit Sports.


Places to Hike


Wichita Mountains Robbers Cave State Park Greenleaf State Park Ouachita National Recreation Trail McGee Creek State Park Nature Conservancy


Emily Mathews jumps across a stream with the help of her husband Dirk while hiking with Cory Walkingstick at the Charon’s Garden Wilderness Area in the Wichita Mountains.


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Adam Pratt rides his mountain bike along a rocky ridge at Roman Nose State Park.


BIKE THROUGH THE BACKCOUNTRY


klahoma has an active mountain biking community. The Oklahoma Earth- bike Fellowship is a statewide organization that builds and maintains trails throughout Oklahoma. They work with local landowners and land manag- ers to advocate for mountain biking, to develop trail systems and to build


new places to ride. Many Oklahoma parks feature mountain biking trails the entire family can utilize. Some are located in or near urban areas, while others are more remote. Races are held periodically throughout the year for those interested in competition. Local mountain biking clubs organize family rides, campouts and offer advice and training on how to safely ride bicycles off-road. There are a number of mountain bike trails situated in Oklahoma’s state parks.


These are usually managed by the local ranger and available for use by park visitors. The following parks offer an organized trail system:


Roman Nose State Park - Located just north of Watonga, Okla., Roman Nose features a vast trail system running through the mountains and valleys in and around the park. The terrain is similar to that found in much of the western United States with rocks, cactus, juniper and multiple elevation changes.


Lake Murray State Park - This popular trail system south of Ardmore, Okla., features sandy terrain with lush vegetation. With a new lodge under construction, this is a great family destination with a range of activities for young families.


Keystone State Park - Once again sand dominates the trails at Keystone. Nice camping facilities are available nearby and the lake is midway between Tulsa and Oklahoma City.


Clayton Lake State Park -While there is no offi cially maintained and marked mountain bike trail system at Clayton Lake State Park, the riding opportunities in and around the park are unparalleled. Mountain bikers can easily ride multi-day mountain biking trips based out of the park. The well known K-Trail across the Kiamichi Mountains begins just a couple of miles from the park.


In addition to the numerous trails at Oklahoma State Parks, a number of towns and cities have developed extensive off-road mountain biking trails for riders. There are several trail systems in and around Oklahoma City and Tulsa, plus trail systems near Lawton and Ponca City.


Arcadia Lake - This fairly new trail system offers several miles of excellent trails on the east edge of Edmond.


Bluff Creek - One of the most popular trails in Oklahoma City, this trail system just north of Lake Hefner dam offers tight, technical trails. It is a busy trail on weekends.


Turkey Mountain - Turkey Mountain in Tulsa is one of the oldest mountain biking trail systems in Oklahoma. It features rough, rocky terrain with a lot of eleva- tion change and a scenic view of the Arkansas River.


Medicine Park - There are several excellent trails around the small tourist town


of Medicine Park, nestled near the Wichita Mountains in southwest Oklahoma. Base Camp Adventure Outfi tters in Medicine Park offers trail maps and bicycle rentals.


JULY 2016 15


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