11 Beautiful and Fun Hikes Near Oklahoma City to Tackle ASAP
Some of our posts include affiliate links. When you make a purchase from one of these links, The Urban Outdoors may receive a commission at no additional cost to you. As always, we only recommend products and services we actually use - no BS necessary.

Oklahoma City may be a concrete jungle, but it’s located in the perfect place for exploring some of the most beautiful and wild places that the state has to offer. Hiking near Oklahoma City offers a surprising amount of variety, from lakefront trails to forests to waterfalls to mountains. There are so many excellent trails ranging from beginner-friendly strolls to strenuous leg burning treks. We created this guide to the best hikes near Oklahoma City so you can plan an adventure and explore the most beautiful trails in the area.

Know Before You Go: Jacksonville’s trails are beautiful, but they’re often hot and dry. We’d recommend a good pair of hiking shoes (Chacos for flatter trails and hiking boots for more challenging ones), as well as lots of strong bug spray to keep the mosquitoes at bay. A wide brimmed hat and sunscreen would also be smart to bring along with you, as well as a large, insulated water bottle with cold water.

Looking for the perfect gift for your favorite hiker? Here’s a comprehensive list of our
35 favorite (practical) gifts for hikers, updated for 2020!

Easy Hiking Near Oklahoma City

Oklahoma River Trail

  • Distance from Oklahoma City: 0 miles
  • Trail Length: 13.4 miles total
  • Elevation Gain: 214 feet

An urban trail shared by bikers, walkers, and runners, the Oklahoma River Trail isn’t as much of a “hike” as it is a stroll. But getting outdoors is getting outdoors, and if you hike for long enough along this urban riverfront pathway, you’ll find plenty of nature along the way to admire and adore. Away from the city center, the trail quiets down and you’ll find paved, accessible waterfront paths that are perfect for families with strollers or dogs. Just watch out for bikers, who often whiz down the trail throughout the day.

Martin Nature Center

  • Distance from Oklahoma City: 0 miles
  • Trail Length: 2.6 miles
  • Elevation Gain: Minimal

For access to local plant life and wildlife, there’s no better place for hiking in Oklahoma City than Martin Nature Center. This 140-acre wildlife preserve is home to several local species, including deer, turtles, and birds. During sunnier days, the forested trails here provide some nice shade from the heat, and pass next to Bluff Creek and Spring Creek, two scenic, peaceful little streams you can enjoy. The best time of day to go to catch wildlife is in the early morning, while the air is still cool and animals are out and about.

Photo Credit: Kool Cats Photography (Flickr CC)

Lake Hefner Trail

  • Distance from Oklahoma City: 0 miles
  • Trail Length: 9.4 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 104 feet

Lake Hefner is a popular recreational area located in the Northwest side of Oklahoma City, and its namesake hiking trail loops all the way around the perimeter of the lake, nearly 10 miles. Bikers, walkers, runners, and hikers enjoy using this trail for their everyday activities, and it’s perfect for a late afternoon hike as the sun sets low over the horizon. You’ll often see boaters on the lake during sunny days, as well as local bird species that live close to the water.

Bluff Creek Trail

  • Distance from Oklahoma City: 0 miles
  • Trail Length: 1.2 miles
  • Elevation Gain: Minimal

Located on the northern side of Lake Hefner is Bluff Creek Park, a beautiful urban park located amidst some wild, forested areas. Here, you can often see deer wandering through the trees, or turtles in the nearby streams. The 1.2-mile trail that runs through here is an excellent way to see the area’s scenic forests and waterways, and it’s short enough to do in under an hour. For those on a time crunch who want to escape the city for a little bit, the Bluff Creek Trail is a great spot.

Moderate Hikes Near Oklahoma City

Turner Falls Park

  • Distance from Oklahoma City: 80 miles/1 hour, 15 minutes
  • Trail Length: 3.5 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 351 feet

There are a surprising number of incredibly beautiful landscapes just a short drive from the city, and Turner Falls Park is one of them. As one of the most popular hikes near Oklahoma City, this waterfall is considered to be one of the tallest waterfalls in Oklahoma (tied with one in Natural Falls State Park). Along the 3.5-mile trail through the park, you can find local wildlife, a castle, excellent views of the falls from several different viewpoints. Don’t leave the park without taking a dip in the pools below the falls! It’s a great reward for hiking in the Oklahoma sunshine.

Inspiration Point Loop at Watonga Lake

  • Distance from Oklahoma City: 74 miles/1 hour, 15 minutes
  • Trail Length: 5.8 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 518 feet

For a longer, moderate hike through the beautiful landscapes of Roman Nose State Park, head to the Inspiration Point Loop at Watonga Lake. This trail takes hikers nearly 6 miles through the dry trails of the park, offering beautiful views of nearby Watonga Lake. Some elevation gain and terrain changes make this trail challenging and fun for all levels of hikers. Along the way, you’ll find small streams and waterfalls, lots of forested areas, a few steep ascents, and some epic views from the highest points of the trail.

Photo Credit: Larry Smith (Flickr CC)

Bison Trail

  • Distance from Oklahoma City: 101 miles/1 hour, 45 minutes (Wichita Mountain Wildlife Refuge)
  • Trail Length: 6.1 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 416 feet

Did you know you can find rocky gorges, mountains, and cliffs less than 2 hours from Oklahoma City? There’s a reason why outdoor lovers flock to Wichita Mountain Wildlife Refuge to explore the outdoors and hike. On the Bison Trail, you’ll find 6.1 miles of park views, from peaceful lakesides to rocky hilltops and a striking gorge that West Cache Creek runs through. It’s absolutely otherworldly, and it’s an easy day trip from the city. The Bison Trail is easily one of the best hikes near Oklahoma City if you’re looking for incredible views and scenery.

Photo Credit: Granger Meador (Flickr CC)

Elk Mountain Trail

  • Distance from Oklahoma City: 99 miles/1 hour, 45 minutes
  • Trail Length: 2.3 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 577 feet

Located in the famous Charons Garden Wilderness, the Elk Mountain Trail is a moderate version of the park’s namesake trail (below in this article). Throughout the 2.3-mile trail, you’ll get to see the strange, breathtaking landscapes of this vast park. Dry plains meet rocky, rugged terrain at this park, and on the Elk Mountain Trail, you’ll climb nearly 600 feet to explore one of the mountaintops of this area. As the trail is mostly exposed, it’s a good idea to bring a wide brimmed hat and go early in the morning to avoid the mid-day sun.

Photo Credit: Kool Cats Photography (Flickr CC)

Cathedral Mountain Trail

  • Distance from Oklahoma City: 112 miles/2 hours (Gloss Mountain State Park)
  • Trail Length: 1.5 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 206 feet

Gloss Mountain State Park may just have the most unique landscapes on our list, the most notable being flat-top mountains that are bright red that stand boldly out amidst the flat plains. On this short, moderate trail, you can catch some of the best views of the park’s colorful landscape and get a good leg workout in, too. Uphill trails and stairs will bring you to the top of one of these mountains, where you’ll catch a bird’s eye view of the area. At the top of the mesa, you can roam around and explore the area, taking in the sights from all angles!

Photo Credit: Larry Smith (Flickr CC)

Difficult Hikes Near Oklahoma City

Charons Garden Wilderness Trail

  • Distance from Oklahoma City: 99 miles/1 hour, 45 minutes
  • Trail Length: 5.8 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 613 feet

A longer, tougher trail in Charons Garden Wilderness is its namesake trail, which extends nearly 6 miles around the park area. Located in the Wichita Mountains, it’s got a mixture of flat plains, shrubby plants, and incredible rock formations you can traverse along the way. The rocks and cliffs are what make this area especially magical – many look like something out of Indiana Jones and provide opportunities for experienced hikers to scramble and climb.

This trail is rated as difficult, meaning it’s wise to have a good amount of hiking experience before tackling it. If you’re up for the challenge, the views from various points in the trail are well worth the effort.

Photo Credit: Thomas Shahan (Flickr CC)

Robbers Cave State Park Mountain Trail

  • Distance from Oklahoma City: 157 miles/2.5 hours (Robbers Cave State Park)
  • Trail Length: 7 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 1,230 feet

Rivers, lakes, and rugged rock formations will greet you on Robbers Cave State Park’s Mountain Trail, which is a 7-mile out-and-back through the park. You’ll pass two lakes – Lake Carlton and Lake Wayne Wallace – as well as several rocky cliffs and formations that offer stunning views of the water and beyond. Several steep ascents and rock scrambles will take you to these viewpoints, so be ready to use all fours as you make your way through the trail! For experienced hikers, this is one of the best hikes near Oklahoma City for a strenuous challenge with incredible rewards.

Additional Resources for Hiking in Oklahoma City

What to Pack

  • Hiking boots – You can’t hike without appropriate footwear, period. For most trails, we recommend an all-purpose waterproof boot with ankle support. We recommend Salomon hiking boots or Keen hiking boots for a comfortable hike.
  • Breathable hiking clothes – For warmer hikes, you’ll want to stay cool in a sweat-wicking shirt/tank top and breathable pants, like these PrAna hiking pants for men and women. For cold-weather hikes, we recommend dressing in layers, including merino wool baselayers, an insulated puffer jacket, and a waterproof outer shell. And don’t forget a pair of the best hiking socks in the world!
  • Trekking poles – You won’t need these for every single hike, but we recommend throwing them in your car anyway just in case. We recommend the Black Diamond foldable trekking poles, which are lightweight and easy to transport.
  • Water bottle – Having water available at all times is a huge must. To spare disposable plastic, we recommend bringing your own refillable water bottle. We’re obsessed with Hydro Flask bottles because they keep water cold for hours, but a good old Nalgene works very well too.
  • Sunscreen and bug spray – This should be self-explanatory, but sweatproof sunscreen and DEET bug spray can help you avoid sunburn and bug bites, two of hiking’s most annoying after-effects.
  • A brimmed hat or cap – The sun can be brutal in open hikes, so always pack a brimmed hat or cap for day hikes in the sunshine.
  • Emergency blanket and first aid kit – We’d strongly recommend bringing a first aid kit and a lightweight emergency blanket on every hike. Why? Because the unfathomable can happen, and it’s always best to play it safe.
  • Durable day pack – A durable day pack is the perfect spot to stash all your hiking gear. While any backpack will do, we recommend Osprey day packs because they’re comfortable and breathable for long hikes.

Wondering what exactly you should pack for your next hike? Visit our Complete Day Hiking Packing List for our full list and our top gear recommendations.

Related Articles

Avatar
Author

Kay Rodriguez is the Chicago-based travel writer and photographer behind Jetfarer and Skyline Adventurer. When she's not blogging furiously on her laptop or editing photos, you can find Kay running, hiking, or paddling in a new city.

Write A Comment