Oklahoma is home to several areas of preserved forest lands and wild areas with extended hiking trails. The state does not offer the large tracts of public lands like much of the east, west and south, but the collection of state parks, national forest lands and wildlife refuge lands provides options for the dedicated hiker.
Beavers Bend State Park is located in the southeast corner of the state. Broken Bow is nearest city and the park offers several hiking trails. The 16-mile David Boren Trail is the only route available for overnight hiking. Campfires are banned from the trail, but hikers may spend two or more days traveling the route. The trail crosses several scenic overlook areas and navigates the shoreline of Broken Bow Lake and the Lower Mountain Fork River.
The Ouachita Trail is located in the Ouachita National Forest that surrounds the central Oklahoma-Arkansas border. The trail branches off the Horse Thief Springs in Heavener, Oklahoma, and travels more than 50 miles before crossing the Arkansas border. The Ouachita trail system is the best option for multiple-day backpacking trips in the state of Oklahoma. The trail travels through protected forests and rolling hills with the potential for one full week of backpacking in two states.
Horse Thief Springs
The 11-mile Horse Thief Springs Trail alone is adequate for an overnight hike without beginning the long Ouachita route. The trail is a historic route once used by outlaws to hide and water horses at spring water sites. The trail is also works well as a starting and ending point for short trips on Ouachita trail without leaving the state of Oklahoma. The Horse Thief Springs Trail is steep and is one of the most difficult trails in the state.
Black Kettle National Grassland
The Black Kettle National Grassland is a 30,000-acre recreation area in the northwest corner of the state. The area does not provide dedicated hiking trails for overnight trips, but hiking, hunting, camping and horseback riding are permitted activities. Purchase a topographical map of the area and hike cross country until you find an area suitable for overnight camping. The area does not require any fees and the rolling hills and natural breaks in the landscape provide hidden camping spots.
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