OKC Trails

Yesterday a group of Scouts and leaders from Troop 15 did 20 miles along part of the Oklahoma City trails system.  This is the third time we’ve used the trail system as part of our Hiking Merit Badge program; in the past we’ve used the Katy Trail (along I-35 from near 63rd down to near the I-35/I-40 junction, then back), and a couple months ago along the Oklahoma River (from the Boathouse area to I-44 and back).

Yesterday we walked the Overholser East and most of the West River trails, for a total yo-yo of 20 miles.  The photos from our expedition are here.  Weather for the hike was perfect, just a touch on the cool and breezy side.  We got a couple rain showers.  The hike crew blazed on the trail, covering the 20 miles in just over nine hours.

Since this is our third city trail adventure, I think we have some data to make comments on the trails.  I think, first of all, that it’s GREAT that the city finally got around to working on some outdoor recreation, including trails.

My two biggest beefs about the trail system is a lack of water and restrooms along the trails.

There is no place I found to get water anywhere along the three trails we have hiked.  There is a water hose for non-potable water at Crystal Lake (and I wonder at this, why would you need a non-potable water spigot next to a really nice picnic area?).  We had our Scouts carrying two water bottles each, which is fine for a five-miler.  What we ended up doing is stopping for lunch at Crystal Lake; two of the adults hiking from the trail south on Rockwell to a 7-11, and buying a couple gallons of water to refill the guys water bottles.  There isn’t a good way to do that along the Katy, or the River trail on the north side (there is a playground/park on the south side, but I don’t know if there is water there).  Regardless, if you hike these trails, particularly during the summer, carry a lot of water.

Yesterday we found a restroom at the Overholser dam, in the form of a porta-potty that was on its side.  The next facility we found was a porta-potty at Crystal Lake, which is a long ways to go, if you need to go.  There were actual restrooms as Crystal Lake, but they were locked.  It is worse on the Katy Trail, no restrooms on the trail at all (although you could hit the Zoo, OK Railway Museum, or the golf course, but those are all clustered together on the north side).  For the River trail, you can use the Boathouse, but that’s pretty much it.

A note about Crystal Lake.  That place is a diamond in the rough.  I had ZERO idea it even existed before yesterday.  A nice lake (although “Crystal” clear is a bit of a reach 🙂 ), really nice picnic grounds, and a second area on the west side of the lake that looks like it could be a second pavilion area.  For some reason, that area is fenced off from the trail.  There ought to be a trail from the West River trail around the SW and S side of Crystal Lake through those beautiful trees; that would make a nice roughly 1.5 mile loop around the lake.

One more note.  If you look at aerial photography of the area south of 10th Street and west of the West River trail, there are medium density woods all the way to the North Canadian/Oklahoma River.  Those woods would be a PERFECT location for some mountain biking/hiking trails like those at Draper Lake.  You could probably get 10 miles of looping trails in there.

My plan is to hike or bike all of the OKC trails eventually.  It’s a great system, and a couple minor tweaks would make it great.

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