The mountain biker’s ultimate excuse is—not knowing which trail to ride and when to ride. With so little information about trails and their availability at specific periods, this can be a real challenge. So we have decided to compile a list of Oklahoma’s finest mountain biking trails and their points of attraction.
Oklahoma ranks as 20th in the list of America’s largest states. It is surrounded to the north by Kansas, to the northeast by Missouri, to the northwest by Colorado, and the south and west by Texas, Known by its nickname ‘The Sooner State,’ the state has a wide range of terrains—mountain ranges, mesas, Great Plains, and wooded areas. The state’s highest point is the Black Mesa peaking at 4,973 feet. There are four major mountain ranges in Oklahoma, which is good news for the biker. They include the Arbuckle Mountains, the Ozark Mountains, The Ouachita Mountains, and the Wichita Mountains.
Below is a list of the state’s best mountain biking destinations.
1. Turkey Mountain Park Trails
Situated in the Tulsa City area, Turkey Mountain Park has some of the most challenging trails you can find in Oklahoma. Running on both sides of the city’s power lines, the tracks here are technical and risky.
A favorite trail system in the area, bikers frequent here for the diverse terrain and the feel that you can never really conquer the trails here. Steep climbs and trails interweaved that make it difficult not to get lost can be found on the western section of this trail. The northern part is relatively easier to navigate, with mostly flat terrain and very little elevation gain. The natural and artificial obstacles, however, will keep any biker alert.
The Turkey Mountain Park Trails are more suited for advanced riders obsessed with tackling rugged terrains. Complete beginners and intermediate bikers who are not so confident in their skill levels would do well to avoid these trails. A favorite of locals in the area, riding the trails gives a different experience every time.
2. Lake Lawtonka Trails
20 miles of trails await you at the Lake Lawtonka Trails, situated in the elegant town of Lawtonka. Mountain bikers come here frequently for the speedy courses that run alongside Lake Lawtonka.
There are six different singletrack loops, all technical and flowy. All six trails are marked intermediate to difficult. The trails here all present a distinct level of difficulty, with varied landscapes. Quick and abrupt climbs keep popping up, along with the many stream crossings that are littered all over the trail system.
The Red Loop has the most traffic, for obvious reasons. There are rock gardens that make the track a bit tricky. But midway through, the rolling meadows allow you to race against the wind. The most comfortable loop here is the Blue loop. Apart from a particularly trying section, the trail is smooth and mostly flat. The biggest rocks can be found among the Black and Orange loops, which also have the most demanding climbs and technical sections.
The scenery here is a big attraction to many riders, with wildlife and vegetation here, some of the best. Strong beginners may attempt the loops at this trail but are recommended to go along with a more experienced rider. Intermediate and advanced bikers will lick their lips at the prospect of overcoming this challenge.
3. McMurtry Trails
Tucked away in a nook on the outskirts of the town of Stillwater, the McMurtry Trails is a 27-mile long trail system that caters to riders of all levels.
The trail is split into four exciting loops with about 6 miles length each and different difficulty levels. Floods have played a part in shaping the course of these trails, with roots sticking out to make the trails a little less straightforward. All loops are punctuated by quick steep climbs, curvy switchbacks, and rock gardens.
The loops are pretty fast, but the natural and human-made obstacles help serve as pleasant speed bumps. Some sections are sandy due to the washout caused by floods, so watch out or risk a bad fall.
All classes of mountain bikers would enjoy the trails here, from the biker taking his first lessons to the hardened biker.
4. The Trails at St. Crispin’s
Located in the heart of Seminole, Oklahoma, are 8 miles of arduous singletrack, known as The Trails at St. Crispin’s Conference Center. The location is a private facility. Five loops combine to make this trail, with some pretty easy and some outright difficult.
The routes include some sharp elevation changes and rock gardens. Some of the trails include The Yellow Trail, which is a 2-mile long easy-going trail for beginners. The Green Trail, also a 2-mile long trail, can be ridden by just any biker, with a short advanced portion that any beginner can quickly bypass. The Orange trail is a double track trail that would be appreciated by new bikers seeking to sharpen skills. The Blue trail is the most difficult, with a length only advanced riders should attempt.
The surface on most trails can be a bit slack, especially during the summer season. Riders are advised to be alert as hikers and runners also use the tracks.
5. Lake Ponca Trails
Built in 2015 as an intermediate to difficult trail, this Lake Ponca trail network is unforgiving and has mostly rocky terrain. Located in Ponca City, Oklahoma, the trail is a 7.2-mile long singletrack path that features a fast-flowing track intertwined with technical spots.
Not built for beginners, the ride is crammed with areas that will test the rider’s bike handling skills to the limit, although there are bypasses for bikers not willing to navigate such regions. Beginning from the trailhead at Muskrat Maze, is a zig-zag portion going around big rocks. The maze is a 4-mile workout with lots of strenuous hills. The next challenge is the Lizard Lane/Bobcat Beat—this is one trail, divided into two. The Lizard Lane is tough singletrack coursing through rock gardens and a moon-shaped slab rock. Beginners would find that the terrain is harsh. The Bobcat Beat is a more comfortable 1-mile ride that meanders through wooded areas and a giant artificial berm and ends on the double track leading to Scorpion Strut.
The other routes in this location include Scorpion Strut, a flowy and challenging trail flowing through the woods, Road Runner, Black Snake Boogie, Road Runner, where the big rocks are found, and Black Snake Boogie with its quick climbs and easy path.
Races are held here often, the most popular being the tour de dirt race. Advanced and Intermediate riders frequent the trails often.
6. Roman Nose Mesa Loop
Located in the Roman Nose Park, the trail consists of 9 miles of single-track, mixed with rock gardens and abrupt up hills. Although the ride is considerably short, there is enough scenery that makes the trails a must ride.
The trail has two sections, the Mesa Loop and the Switchback Trail. The Mess Loop runs for almost a mile before intersecting the Switchback Trail. The Mesa loop is further divided into two portions, the Lower Mesa Loop, which can be ridden counterclockwise, and the Upper Mesa Loop, which is ridden clockwise. Both sections are almost similar, with rock gardens and grueling climbs, and complimentary downhill. Midway through the route, the trail gives a great view of Watonga Lake and its environs. Switchback Trail runs for approximately 2 miles before joining up with the Mesa Loop.
Suitable for strong beginners and intermediate bikers, the trail features some of the best terrains for building skills. As there are several cactus plants along the route, tire sealant is an excellent accessory to have. The trails should not be ridden after rainfall or when the soil is wet as the mud becomes sticky and difficult to navigate.
7. Rock Creek Multi-Use Trail
The Chickasaw National Recreation Area is home to the Rock Creek Multi-Use Trail. It was one of the pioneer parks in the United States. The trail has two trailheads, north and south trailhead—the trailhead at the north, close to the town of Sulphur, is quite challenging to locate but once found, it opens up the gem that is hidden here. The trails here should be on every mountain biker’s wish list.
The trails are well marked with signs of the trail number you are on. The trail passes through dense vegetation and wooded land. There are some double tracks and some gravel on the route. You may find loose soil on different spots, which calls all your bike handling skills into question.
While the trail is designated an intermediate route, it can be ridden by any mountain biker category. The single-track is flowing and would keep any rider happy.
8. T-Bird-The Entire Taco
Also known as ‘The Whole Enchilada,’ the T-Bird-The Entire Taco is located in Lake Thunderbird State Park and has five trails, the Red, Blue, Gold, Green, and Yellow. During summer, riding is almost impossible, as the place is overgrown, and ticks make the place unbearable. The trail is best ridden in the winter season. Boasting an elevation gain of 2000 feet, there’s a lot of climbing to be done, but you’ll also enjoy so much fun here.
The trail is generally enjoyable, with no tough challenge on this park to be tackled. The trail flows in an anti-clockwise direction, with the miles at the start of the trail pretty easy and straightforward. The Blue Loop Plaid Section is an extremely speedy ride, and speedsters can go up to 14 miles per hour here. After about 4 miles, the trail links back with the Blue Loop.
The Gold Loop is the longest here, with a 10.25-mile length. All kinds of obstacles, from natural to human-made impediments, litter this loop. The short climbs, outcroppings, wooden bridges, and jumps help to make the trail more exciting. The trail circles back to rejoin the Blue Loop, with lengthier climbs. After Huffy Hills, a double track, the next loop, if you wish to continue riding, is the Red Loop, which is the most challenging part of this trail system. The trail ends with a glorious descent that can easily average 20 miles per hour.
9. McGee Creek Natural Scenic Recreation
With a little over 30 miles of rocky surfaces, McGee Creek Natural Scenic Recreation is not too well known as many others in this list. Located in southeast Oklahoma, the trails here are open to hikers, runners, and mountain bikers. The courses are mixed, some singletrack, others doubletrack, and courses through pine trees.
The trails are old-fashioned and marked correctly in many places. The tracks are not highly frequented, as the park is in a remote area, meaning you have 30 miles of old-school track to explore with very little interference.
Visitors are required to fill a permit form due to the unique nature of the trails. This information helps the staff at the park to know you are using the trails. After your ride, one-half of your card should be deposited in the ranger station to indicate you are safe and no longer riding. Bikers are expected to wear helmets at all times here.
This park’s considerable length and remote location make it ideal for solo riders looking for a long ride. Bikers must have a good sense of geography to avoid getting lost.
10. Claremore Mountain Bike Trail
Situated in Claremore Town, Oklahoma, the Claremore Mountain Bike Trail is an entry-level mountain biking trail suitable for families, beginners, and people taking their first bike lessons.
Not too far away from Claremore Lake, the terrain is mostly flat and has minimal elevation gain. The trail is a short one, just 4 miles long, but the length does not take away its numerous merits. At some points, the course is as wide as 5 feet, making it ideal for kids and beginners.
There are a few obstacles and challenging spots to spice things up. The rock garden is not too difficult to navigate, but it keeps the new rider active and alert. Families and groups of bikers learning the art of mountain biking would enjoy the location and its attendant serenity, away from the prying eyes of more established bikers.
Oklahoma is such a wonderful place to explore with a mountain bike. There are so many mountain biking spots to choose from. The different landscapes that grace the state cater to all bikers; irrespective of your terrain and vegetation taste while riding, there is a trail for you. Outdoor enthusiasts troop into the state to enjoy the popular trails that are here. So if you are still in doubt about which trail to ride, pack up your mountain biking gear and give it a go.