We finally found a mountain in Oklahoma! Mount Scott is on the east side of the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge and offers beautiful views for miles from the top.
Getting to the top of Mount Scott is fastest by car. A thin two lane road with no shoulder circles its way up the mountain to the top. There’s a few overlooks on the way and parking at the top. It was so much fun to come across a real mountain, especially for my husband who doesn’t think hiking counts unless it ends in a stunning vista.
At the top, there’s not much hiking to be done. There’s a few observation platforms and enough rocky ground to scramble around on for fun, but it pretty quickly falls into a nearly straight drop. We saw a few people rappelling and wished we had gear to join them!
Hiking or biking up Mount Scott is not for the faint of heart. The only trail is the road, and cars head up fast enough – and the mountain is steep enough, and the wind strong enough – that it’s not advised. However, the road is open to pedestrians and bikes only for the first few hours each day: cars can drive up starting at 9am, letting others use the road as a trail starting at sunrise.
One of the things I love about the Wichita Mountains is that you get so many different ecological settings on every single height. The mountainous rocks with cacti and bright green lichen fades into the tall waving plains, mesmerizing as the wind runs through them. Those are dotted with bits of forest, inexplicably sprouting up in patches and acres throughout the landscape. When you hit water, the landscape changes again, offering a lushness not seen anywhere else on the skyline.
The Mount Scott Nature Trail hike at the base of Mount Scott gives a little of everything. As usual for Oklahoma hiking trails, the trailhead is nearly invisible, but can be found at a sharp right bend in the road near a picnic area. It looks like a deer trail, but trust me, that’s it. [Side note: Oklahoma, why can’t you label trails? I grew up hiking and my husband was an eagle scout: it should not be this hard for us to follow your trails.] True to form, we started by just estimating where we thought the trail began and bushwhacked through the plains grasses until we found something resembling a trail. This particular one partially follows a maintenance road, so once you meet up with that it’s easy to stay on track.
The trail dead ends at a pond on the edge of Fort Sill’s land (the local army base owns most of the land surrounding the wildlife refuge). The pond itself isn’t remarkable; it simply serves as a place to end the trail.
As is always a possibility in the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, we ran into some longhorn cattle on our hike. We gave them plenty of space as we circled around them. They saw us and started slowly moving away, but we didn’t want to give them any reason to be alarmed, especially with a dog in tow. Keep in mind that these are wild animals. If you see them, stay away! They didn’t give us any trouble though.
Exploring the Wichita Mountain Wildlife Refuge is always a good hiking day, and it was especially fun to discover an actual mountain! Mount Scott was definitely worth checking out. If you’re interested in other trails, our favorites are Charons Garden and the Kite Trail.
All photos copyright Teaspoon of Nose