Oklahoma is home to some of the most beautiful scenery in the United States. The terrain is varied, from the sparkling lakes of the northeast, the rolling plains in the center of the state and beautiful canyons and mesas in the west. If you’re looking for a scenic hiking trail where you can get back in touch with nature, here are five of the prettiest locations in the state.
Beavers Bend State Park has many hiking trails of different difficulties, but the Beaver Lodge Nature Trail is a favorite because you will see stunning views and hear the sound of rushing water for added stress relief. It’s about one mile, and although it is beautiful at any time of the year, the best time to visit is in the fall when the leaves are turning colors. If the trail floods, it can be much more difficult to hike it.
The entire system of this area has more than 25 miles of hiking trails. Motor vehicles are not permitted and it is a “quiet-water zone,” which is strictly enforced. You must get a permit before hiking, but it is free. The main loop is a longer trail, at 10 miles with some areas that are a little more difficult. There are plenty of campsites, but many do not have amenities. However, the trails are very well maintained and clearly marked.
The hiking trail at Greenleaf Lake is almost 40 years-old. It’s one long 18-mile loop, but it can be broken down into a north and a south loop. It’s at least an intermediate level trail, with some areas that might be considered expert level. If you take the southeast trail, which hugs the shoreline of the lake, you cross a suspension bridge where you’ll get some beautiful pictures of the area. The path has a few switchbacks, due to the elevation changes.
The Yellow Trail is a 4.4-mile loop which takes about two or three hours to hike. You’ll get some beautiful views of both Tulsa and the Arkansas River. The difficulty level is moderate. The park has been GPS-mapped and maps are available at the parking lots and at kiosks throughout the park, but you can also download a topographical map at the website. It is a beautiful urban wilderness that is open to hikers, cyclists and equestrians. Pets are welcome on a leash.
The Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge features over 30 miles of nature trails. The Elk Mountain trail is short, but it does have a higher difficulty level because it is steep. However, it’s worth it to have a 270-degree view of the surrounding mountains. You’ll find lots of picturesque moments, and usually, you’ll see lots of wildlife as you explore the area. There is no fee for daily use, and the visitor center will have a lot of helpful information and maps. Cell service is spotty in the area, so you can unplug for the day.