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6 of Oklahoma's Most Scenic Hikes

Oklahoma is more than just OK...

By: Jamie Fleck + Save to a List

It’s a state with a myriad of natural beauty wherever you venture to. From towering cliffs to sparkling lakes to rolling grasslands to fiery mesas, Oklahoma boasts a beautiful variety of scenery sure to please almost any outdoor enthusiast. With exciting hiking trails ranging from varying degrees of athleticism to these beautiful places, there is always a great reason for any native Oklahoman or anyone visiting Oklahoma to experience some of the state’s natural wonders and wildlife!

Here are some of the most scenic hiking trails in Oklahoma:

1. Hike the Cathedral Mountain trail at Gloss Mountain State Park

Photo: Jamie Fleck

The Gloss Mountains are a vibrant range of prehistoric, fiery hued mesas and buttes towering almost 1,600 feet above sea level. Their name derives from their shiny exterior due to their high selenite content. For panoramic views of one of western Oklahoma’s one-of-a-kind natural wonders, hike the 1.2 mile, out-and-back trail to the rim of Cathedral Mountain. From there, you will get 360 degree views of Cimarron River and you will also get to see Lone Peak Mountain. Learn more.

2. Hike the Elk Mountain Trail in Wichita Mountains

Photo: Jamie Fleck

The Wichita Mountain Wildlife Refuge is one of Oklahoma’s beloved gems. Elk Mountain is one of those beautiful resources that belong to it. The nearly two and a half mile trail to the summit of Elk Mountain provides incredible views of the Wichita Mountains and Charon Garden Wilderness all along the way, as well as wildlife sightings, mainly the colorful Boomer Lizard. For those wishing for some additional physical activity, there are areas for boulder scrambling at the top of Elk Mountain. Learn more.

3. Hike the Mountain Trail to the bluffs in Robbers Cave State Park

Photo: Jamie Fleck

Robbers Cave State Park is infamous as a historic outlaw hang out, but it is also home to the picturesque Carlton Lake and San Bois Mountains. For an extra treat and stunning photograph opportunity, hike the Mountain Trail from the Deep Ford campground to the bluffs. There are several bluffs that you can venture out on that overlook Carlton Lake. The distance to the bluffs and back to the campground is around 3.2 miles. Learn more.

4. Hike the Lake Loop trail to the Mesa Loop trail in Roman Nose State Park

Photo: Kevin Abernathy

If you want to hike somewhere where you can have a beautiful view, a decent place to have a picnic, and enjoy the sunset, then hike the 2.8 mile trail from Lake Loop trail to Mesa Loop trial in Roman Nose State Park. From this path you will reach Inspiration Point, which offers incredible views of the canyon and Watonga lake. Along the trail, you will get to experience an assortment of uphill and downhill climbing, switchbacks, and even a nice little rock garden. Learn more.

5. Hike the Ankle Express trail to the swinging bridge in Greenleaf State Park

Photo: Jamie Fleck

One of the most Instagrammed locations in Oklahoma’s state parks is the swinging bridge in Greenleaf State Park. This unique bridge suspends over the tourmaline hued Greenleaf Lake, and is fun to be photographed on. To get to this landmark, start the 5.3 out-and-back hike from the Ankle Express trailhead across Deer Run campground. The trail weaves through the scenic forest and along the lake as well. Learn more.

6. Hike the McGee Creek Natural Scenic Recreation Area loop

Photo: Jason Godwin

For those looking for variation in their hiking experience, the McGee Creek Natural Scenic Recreation Area loop trail has multiple canyons, descents into creeks, and picturesque overlooks. This trail and adjoining lake area are also noted for their peacefulness and quiet waters, as no motorized vehicles or bikes are allowed. For a good day hike, you can choose to hike the main loop, which is 10 miles. For a decent backpacking experience, you can hike the entire trail system of 25 miles. Learn more.

Cover photo: Jamie Fleck

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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