As temperatures drop and leaves begin to change, the greater metro area offers surprises for hikers and nature-seekers alike. Amid a bevy of lake, refuge and state park offerings, here are four lesser-known hikes to consider, off the pavement but not far from the beaten path.
Bluff Creek Trail
The trail north of Lake Hefner may be a favorite of mountain bikers, but for those wanting a short hike, it is also a good bet. Climbing the thickly wooded, sometimes steep hills and gullies or looping through a field can give hikers the illusion of being in more remote country than five minutes from Lake Hefner's restaurant row.
"It's a pretty good little workout," said Ron Stahl, marketing director of Oklahoma State Parks.
Martin Park Nature Center
The urban location and 3.5 miles of maintained dirt and gravel trails might make a visit to Martin Park Nature Center, 5000 W. Memorial, ideal, but fall also offers opportunities for visitors to view seasonal changes, according to park naturalist Neil Garrison.
"Right here in Oklahoma City, we have some pretty dramatic foliage colors," he said.
Stinchcomb Wildlife Refuge
If Martin Park represents a cultivated approach to trails, Stinchcomb Wildlife Refuge offers more than 1,000 acres of practically untouched wilderness along the North Canadian River, north of Lake Overholser.
While there are no formal trails, the area is open for exploring, according to Jennifer McClintock, public information and marketing manager with the city's Parks and Recreation Department. "Emily Jerman