Hiking Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, Lawton, OK

Hike summary: 6.1 miles through amazing terrain. About 240 ft of altitude gain.

I took a group of Scouts to WMWR last Saturday. Our objective was a shakedown hike for a backpacking trip to New Mexico in July. We wanted to do 10 miles. We ended up getting 6.1 due to a late start out of camp (and we were at Quartz Mountain, so we had an hour drive there and back).

We met another leader at the Visitor Center. A number of swallows have built nests above the entrance door. If you go there, cover your head! The Visitor Center has some really nice dioramas and other displays about the Refuge.

We drove a couple miles to the trailhead and loaded up. Here is the crew:

The hike follows Cache Creek for the first part. The river is really pretty.

After hiking up a while, you get above a really unexpected site, which is a medium deep canyon with Cache Creek flowing through it. It’s BEAUTIFUL! There are a number of pools of water that are swimmable in here, and if it were hotter, that would have been a real treat.

This is looking back into the canyon. It’s stunning!

If you stay on the trail, which is the east side of the canyon, you hike on to Lost Lake. However, we climbed down into the canyon and crossed the creek, the climbed back up on the west side to join the Bison Trail. It runs along the west side to the other side of Lost Lake. You do some climbing along here.

At one point, I used my cameras panorama feature to sweep from Lost Lake to the canyon.

Past Lost Lake, you hike along the creek a lot farther. There is good water all along the route. It’s nice and clear, so it’s filterable.

After a bit you vector away from the water. Ian had sharp eyes and saw this collared lizard right next to the trail. A bit farther on, we saw some bison in the distance.

We stopped at some point and had lunch on a rock outcropping. You will want to know that unless you get down near the shore, there is little cover along this part of the trail. We were running short of time due to our late start, so we detoured on the Longhorn Trail.

I was really surprised by how green it was. All of my previous experience at the Refuge has been in the Winter or Fall. With our good rain so far this year, the Spring in the Refuge is green and beautiful. I was constantly amazed by the carpets of red and yellow flowers.

We had some sprinkles as we walked, but the clouds had moved in shortly after we had lunch, so the temperature was very comfortable. We turned back to the southeast as we continued along the loop, and camp back to the river canyon. We crossed over again, and made it back to the van after about five hours on the trail.

Note that while there is some water on this side of the loop, there’s not that much.

Here is the hike path:

There is a lot of terrain down there left to cover. I’m looking forward to going back down there again. I want to hike Elk Mountain, and the lower part of the Narrows.

I took a lot more photos (and they are the full resolution pictures). They are uploaded to my Picasa site.

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