Hiking in the Wichita Mountains

Elk Mountain Trail, Tower Trail and more ...

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The Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge is located about 20 miles or so to the northwest of Lawton, Oklahoma. It
provides some beautiful scenery and many interesting rock formations, along with some great opportunities to view
wildlife and hosts over 15 miles of hiking trails. We visited in the spring of 2012 and had a fun time exploring the area.
During our time here we did a good bit of  sightseeing, and took two of the hiking trails The terrain in the Wildlife
Refuge is very rocky and there are areas that are heavily wooded. When we visited in March the trees were just
beginning to leaf out, so I would imagine that later in the year and especially in the fall, the colors would be quite
spectacular.

We would definitely like to come back here again some time in the future and explore more of the area, and there are
many more trails in the park that look very interesting. Here is some information on the
hiking trails that we explored
during our visit. Hopefully, this trail information and pictures will be helpful when planning your trip.

Elk Mountain Trail - This trail system is made up of two trails. One of these leads you through the Charons Garden
Wilderness Area and ends up at the Post Oak/Treasure Lake parking area. The other trail leads you directly to the
summit of Elk Mountain. We took the hike straight to the summit of Elk Mountain. The trail starts out at the Sunset
picnic area where you cross a neat little bridge over the creek. It is about 1.1 miles up to the top of Elk Mountain and
you can take the same trail back down for a nice 2.2 mile roundtrip. Most of the trail is pretty rocky, with natural like
steps cut into the trail in many places. It is a fairly strenuous hike, as it is uphill most of the way, and  you need to
watch your footing pretty carefully because of the rocky terrain. It does have some flat and smooth spots in some
places, and some great places to stop and rest along the way. These resting spots offer some really good views down
the mountain and also the surrounding area.

When you reach the top of Elk Mountain, the summit is quite large, with many large boulders and great rocks to sit on
and enjoy the view. From the top, there are wonderful photo opportunities, views of the lakes, rivers and much of the
Wildlife Refuge. Like many parts of the country, be sure and keep your eyes open while hiking or stepping over rocks
and branches, as rattlesnakes are known to inhabit this area. In fact, our group did spot one off the trail when we
were there in March.

Here are some pictures taken along the way. Enjoy!
View of Elk
Mountain and
creek beside trail
Smooth areas
like this are
rare on this trail
View of rock formation
about 1/2 way up
Trail winds through
trees and boulders
Rock stairways
built into trail
Across the
bridge, start up
Elk Mountain
View across lake at
tower about 1/4 way up.
Small creek
flows beside trail
The Tower Trail is another nice trail in the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge. It is a short hike, so don't worry about
being in great shape before giving this one a try. From the parking area, it is probably only about 1 mile roundtrip and
most of the trail is wide, smooth, and easy walking. However, it does have some rocky spots and slight inclines,
especially as you get closer to the rock tower that overlooks Jed Johnson Lake. After exploring the Holy City, come back
past the Bison and Prairie Dogs and take a right at the main road. The next left should take you to the parking area
where this trail begins.

Here are some pictures taken along the Tower Trail in March of 2012.
Start of trail looking
back at parking area
Trail is wide and
smooth most of the way
Elk Mountain
Elk Mountain Trail
View up toward
Elk Mountain,
about 1/3 way up
Nice rest area along
the way
Elk Mountain view
from rest area
Trail cuts
through many
boulders
Smooth area right
before switch back
View up toward Elk
Mountain, about 1/2
way up
View back toward road
about half way up
Another branch
of trail coming
from Charons
Garden
Rest area after
switch back about
2/3 way up
View of summit as
nearing the top
Heading up trail
after short rest
View back toward
road about 2/3
way up
Hiking back down,
near the bottom and
the bridge
Climbing crew on
top of Elk Mountain
Another view of
top of Elk Mountain
Top of Elk Mountain,
lots of boulders
Tower overlooking Jed Johnson Lake
Tower Trail
View of Jed Johnson Lake
from Tower
View of Tower at
top of the trail
As nearing the top, the
tower comes into view
Trail gets more
rocky and steeper
on last part
Trail gets more rocky
and steeper on last part
Trail curves past rock
formation and up to tower
Favorite Family Vacations
While in the area there are several other places you will want to visit.  The Holy City of the Wichitas is
adjacent to the Wildlife Refuge.  It is a recreation of
the city of Jerusalem in Biblical time built in the hills of the
Wichita Mountains.  
During the spring they put on the Passion Play Pageant.  For good food visit Meers, Ok for
the "Best Hamburgers in Oklahoma".  For a look at history visit Medicine Park which was the first resort in
Oklahoma.