Hike This: Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge

by Malena Lott

Humans primarily run in circles. We take the same routes every day. We go to the same familiar places. We even like to sit at the same table at Starbucks. Parents roll their eyes at how much time their kids spend on their iPads and we’re relieved when studies show Minecraft is kinda sorta good for them. (Hey, they’re building something!) But it’s not just our kids who are missing out. We are, too. While routine makes us feel safe, exploration and adventure is the only way to grow. Oklahoma is ripe with Sooner Spaces to set out on adventures for the mind, body and spirit.

When’s the last time you saw a roadrunner cross your path? I never had until this past weekend when I traveled to Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge in Indiahoma, OK (near Lawton in southwest Oklahoma.) Who knew they really were as fast as the cartoon Roadrunner? When did you last see bison in the wild? Oh, never? Well, you can, and much more. The refuge has been protecting the land and wildlife there since 1901.

Address:

20539 State Hwy 115
Hwy 115 & 49 Junction
Lawton, OK 73505
Phone: 580-429-3222

Travel Ok link here. 

Now that we’ve got the…hey, we should do this! thing out of the way, let’s get to the planning…

TRAVEL & PACKING

It’s a quick day trip from Tulsa or OKC, but you may want to rent a cabin or cottage or hotel in Lawton if you plan on getting more than one hiking trail in and/or spend some time in Medicine Park on the river (post on that next week).

HIKING AND/OR TRAIL SHOES (we don’t care for the boot look due to the heftiness and look so Kelley got Columbia trail shoes and I got Jeep trail slip on shoes). The difference in them and regular tennies is the grip on the bottom and after going up and own those rocks, I highly recommend them.

WOOL SOCKS (or those dry fit ones)

PANTS (yes, you can wear shorts, but just keep a lookout for the cactus and bushes and such) Also it can get cool up top so LAYERS ARE GOOD.

BACKPACK WITH HEALTHY SNACKS (nuts, granola bar, fruit) AND PLENTY OF WATER

TISSUES, SUNGLASSES, FIRT AID KIT, SUNSCREEN

Oh, and a CAMERA! Such beautiful vistas and even cool rock formations. Have your kids guess what the rocks look like and plan on eating snacks at the top.

When you arrive, visit the Visitor’s Center to learn about the 500 million year old history (yes, it’s THAT OLD!) in the area and the foliage and wildlife you may see. Ask the guide any questions about trails before you head out because you do have to drive again from the visitor’s center to the trails.

TIP: GO EARLY!

We arrived by 10 and by the time we got back down Elk Mountain there was no hiking parking left and the trails were a lot more crowded. Of course going during the week is likely a lot less busy than a Saturday like we did.

Since Kelley and I are in good shape, the guide at the visitor’s center recommended a moderate/challenging trail (you’ll see them in the guide) recommended we climb Elk Mountain. We loved the rocky path (and some built in rock steps) and part of the trail was a canopy making it both breezy and shady, which was nice. And some very cool pictures that way, too.

In terms of “danger” do be careful with footing and look out for snakes when the temps get hotter. We only saw one lizard on the rocks. You definitely don’t want the kids to climb at the top by themselves as it’s a real mountain and all, folks. No rail or anything.

Any questions? Leave them for me in comments or message me on Facebook.

xo – Get out and enjoy our Sooner Spaces!

NEXT UP: HIKING BLACK MESA IN THE PANHANDLE WITH MY FAMILY AND SISTER’S FAMILY.

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