Oklahoma is no stranger to natural beauty. From the Salt Plains to the Ouachita Mountains and the Tallgrass Prairie, these stunning destinations eagerly await a visit. 

Hiking any trail for the first time can be daunting, but the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department can help you prepare.

“We have so much diversity in Oklahoma, whether it’s choosing a trail in Chickasaw National Recreational Area for [something] less demanding, or a more challenging trail in the Wichita Mountains – we have a guide for that,” says David White, the legislative liaison and public information officer for the department. The guide White mentions is free for anyone to access on the department’s website, and it can also be downloaded to your phone. 

White encourages everyone to be mindful of their necessities while on the trail, since safety should be the top concern. Make sure you have enough water and food for your hike and be aware of your surroundings. Keep in mind you’re in wildlife territory and be respectful of natural habitats. 

He also encourages people to respect and acknowledge their own abilities, as trails and hike options exist for most levels of athleticism. 

For those in northeastern Oklahoma, Tulsa River Parks’ Ryan Howell says Turkey Mountain is about to undergo significant upgrades. 

“We are in the process of renovating trails and rehabilitating forestry health. We’re also going to take all of the rutted-out trails that are causing erosional problems, and we will be realigning them so they’ll dry faster and improve forestry health,” he says. “We will also be adding amenities that are more family friendly, as well as being more accessible for those with mobility issues.” 

During this renovation phase, Tulsa River Parks will be working with Leave No Trace, a national organization based out of Colorado that works to educate people about forestry and environmental health. The idea is to keep Turkey Mountain and all of Oklahoma’s natural resources intact and thriving for generations to come. 

It can take some planning to curate the perfect outing, but with mindfulness and preparation, you can enjoy any of Oklahoma’s fantastic natural beauty options this autumn. 

Favorite hikes for fall foliage include Beaver’s Bend State Park in Broken Bow; the Ouachita National Forest in extreme-eastern Okla.; or Talimena State Park in the southeastern part of the state. To the northeast, Grand Lake has miles of shoreline and beautiful rolling hills. Oologah Lake and Osage County are also particularly gorgeous for fall enjoyment.

Leave No Trace

This is a familiar phrase to many people who enjoy the outdoors, whether you were introduced to it on a family hike, in scouting or through Oklahoma’s Wildlife Conservation Organization. 
The Leave No Trace organization is currently working with Tulsa River Parks to improve educational opportunities for those enjoying the trails at Turkey Mountain. 
“People aren’t typically maliciously intending on harming the environment,” says Ben Lawhon, senior director of research with Leave No Trace. “We offer a framework for making good decisions about how to make the outdoors enjoyable for everyone.” 

Key principles are:
Plan ahead
Travel and camp on durable surfaces
Dispose of waste properly
Leave what you find where you found it
Minimize campfire impacts
Respect wildlife
Be considerate of other visitors

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