If you’re looking for a short hike in the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, try the Longhorn and Elk trails!
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Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge is a favorite hiking spot of ours, and we’re slowly exploring all their trails. On a blustery day late winter, we checked out the Longhorn and Elk trails!
Each of these is short and flat, perfect for families with kids or if you just want a quick taste of nature without committing to much sweating. The trails are roughly parallel to each other, both branching off the significantly longer Bison Trail loop. So it’s important to pay attention to the markers and take a map on this one if you don’t want to commit to a 6 mile hike.
Unlike most trails in the Wildlife Refuge, the Longhorn and Elk trails are each loops, so you don’t have to account for the return journey when planning. It’s a small thing, but I like when the trail loops: it creates more a feeling of being out in the wilderness to me instead of going exploring and then turning around a going home.
One of the great things about living in Oklahoma has to be the sheer amount of sky: flat land and few trees means the sky goes on forever. Sky and weather set the day’s tone out here. Normally I crave sunshine and dreary weather puts me in a funk.
So it surprised me when I found that I loved the moodiness created by the clouds. Layers upon layers create a textured background for the scruffy trees just before the return of spring.
On the north side of the loop you pass near French Lake. You can walk on the dam and get a cool view of a creek-turn-river (depending on the time of year). This is the same river that flows into the Forty Foot Hole (again, here’s to good ole Oklahoma naming choices) and along the Kite Trail – the Bison Trail and Kite run parallel on opposite sides of the canyon for a bit.