Turkey Mountain Urban Wilderness, Tulsa OK
The Turkey Mountain Urban Wilderness is situated on (that's right) Turkey Mountain, overlooking the west bank of the Arkansas River. Though found inside the Tulsa city limits, the areas is heavily timbered and rugged. The bluffs coming off the river rise over 300 feet to 920 feet above sea level, providing some excellent views of the city.
The vegetation is the typical cross-timber to Ozark transition assemblage of this part of Oklahoma. Blackjack and post oaks dominate the hard woods and few pines are present. There is an active woodland animal population that includes deer, fox, coyote and raccoon. The Tulsa Audubon Society lists many of the birds present. Absent from their list are bald eagles, which given the wilderness's proximity to the river, could be spotted from the bluff.
There are also many cultural remnants that date back to when there was active oil activity on the mountain. Exploring the wilderness you will see some old foundations, old piping and cable coils. It is not litter or old junk piles; it is part of the history of Tulsa. After all it is an urban wilderness.
The trails are open to hikers, horses and mountain bikers. The difficulty of them varies from easy to difficult. If you are a biker there are many technical trails. Since everyone shares the same trails, courtesy is the operative word. The general etiquette is hikers yield to horses, and bikes yield to horses and hikers. However, not everyone knows this so pay attention.
The parking lot at Turkey Mountain has undergone a recent renovation thanks to donations from the Kaiser family. The parking lot is asphalt, there is a new restroom and there is water for you and your dog. There is also a small climbing rock. By the way, if you have heard talk of Turkey Mountain's sordid past, that's a long time ago. It is now family friendly, full of hikers, bikers, dog walkers and others looking to enjoy a wilderness experience without having to drive to the Ouachitas or Ozarks.
The Map: The map on this page can be downloaded for free. It is ready to print on 11x17 paper. Alternatively, preprinted maps on weatherproof Rite-in-the-Rain paper are available at Backwoods in Tulsa, OKC and Norman or by emailing me at Charlie@OuachitaMaps.com ($5 for the map and $1 S&H).
The map was made using GPS tracks taken between 2007 and 2010 and overlaying them on NAIP aerial photos. The 3 dimensional aspect was added using DEM data. The first track was the Ridge Trail which was featured in the September 2007 Backpacker Magazine.
The Trails: The east part of Turkey Mountain has four named trails and a dozen or so unnamed trails. As part of the River Park trail complex, the first to mention is the River Park Trail. This is a two lane, asphalt, bike and pedestrian trail that runs for miles. On the west bank of the Arkansas River it runs from 71st Street to 11 Street, passing through the Turkey Mountain parking lot (red with black on the map).
The three named wilderness trails were blazed by Rob Phillips as part of his Eagle Scout project circa 2005-2006. The Ridge Trail is the longest. It is a 5 mile loop that is blazed with yellow makers and is shown in yellow on the map. It runs from the parking lot to the top of the mountain and follows the edge of the bluff to north end of the mountain. The return is along the middle of the bluff where there are several interesting outcrops and a nice vista. The Blue Trail is about 2 miles long, on the west side of the mountain and passes or provides access to the 3 ponds in this area. The Red trail loops around the hilly area south of the parking lot. It is about a mile in length.
In addition, there are many other trials that allow you to explore the entire wilderness. Most of the trails between the Ridge Trail and Blue Trail are level. The ones shown in pink are what I call technical trails, because they are steep, extremely rugged and if ridable, only by experts.
To Buy Map: This map is available at Backwoods in Tulsa, OKC and Norman and by emailing Charlie@OuachitaMaps.com ($5 plus S&H).
Weatherproof Topographic Maps at
OuachitaMaps.com - Hiking Trails of the Ouachitas and Ozarks