Great Plains State Park is located in Mountain Park, OK., which is about about 45 minutes west northwest of Lawton. The name of the city is an ideal name because it is surrounded by mountains. It is between the Wichita Mountains and the Quartz Mountains. The Great Plains State Park is miss named because it is nothing but hills and mountains. This was also my headquarters to go between the two mountains ranges. I unfortunately did not make to the Quartz Mountains. The prior day I spent more time than I thought at the Wichita Mountains. Plus this being the first trip with my camper I had some “forgot some stuff issues.” I did get some hiking time in this state park.
The park had the usual lack of trail markings I come to expect while hiking in Oklahoma. This time my hike to an unusual turn for the worse. I headed to the trailhead which was marked by an orange bucket with a flag in it. I had a map, it looked like somebody just drew it, and a compass so I felt comfortable. I also started the hike with plenty of sunlight and the park was not that big. At the first split in the trail I went in a direction that would take me back toward my campsite. The trail had no markings but there were cairns on the side of the trail every few feet. I quickly realized that this trail was not taking me up the mountain but around it. I wanted to get some elevation change plus look down on the park and see other mountain ranges in the distance. I back tracked to the split and headed the other direction.
This trail was a bit more defined but still no markings. I started to see blue tape on trees by the trail. I was guessing this was the trail marking. I followed them up to the top of the mountain overlooking my campsite. I got to see everything I wanted and had markings to follow to get back down. I followed the blue markings and quickly realized this is not the way I got up here. Then the markings went away, I tried to backtrack but I could not find the trail I was on originally. The trail map was no help at all. I went back to one of the higher ridge lines of the mountain and found the dam that was close to my campsite. I decided to take a direct route to the dam. I was on a trail most of the way down until the trail started to circle back up the mountain. I stayed the steady course downward and I had to bushwhack a bit to get to another clearing. As the sun was setting and trees were now blocking my view of anything, I thought of calling 911. I gave myself fifteen more minutes of straight hiking to find something I recognized. I continued in a straight line and I saw a campsite. It was the one in which was camping at but I did not know at the time. I finally get to the road and feel good. I see my camper and now I know I am about a half mile from the trailhead.
I hike the shoreline trail back to my car and the trailhead. I make it safely before the sun sets. The funny thing is I was not prepared to camp in a camper but was prepared to get lost hiking. Trail markingsMore trail markingsMaking my way upThe reason I hiked to the topThey were waiting for me.My way back downhill.Finally the Shoreline trail.
I survived to hike another day. Next up, I went back to the Wichita Mountains to finish a hike I started over a year ago.
This is my third trip back to Arkansas and it was awesome. My first stop was at Mount Nebo State Park. The park is located in Dardanelle, AR which is northwest of Little Rock. The first thing about this park that caught my attention was how steep the road is to get into the park. Hwy 155 is a notable road that is known in the area but not to me. It has several switchbacks but the steepness is what really stood out. I also did not have this park as a must visit park. I was in the area so I decided to check it out. I made the right decision.
I got a map and hiked the Rim Trail. The trail had plenty of great views. I also did a little venture on the Gum Springs Trail. The two of many highlights on the trail were Sunset Point and Lover’s Leap. The views from these overlooks were absolutely spectacular. The other overlooks were great but these two stuck out most for me. The hike was not difficult but scary at times. I was on a thin trail with a cliff on one side and a mountain wall on the other. Plus the thermals on the east side of the mountain were blowing. It was tough to keep balance and fight the wind. I got to see eagles use the thermals to dive and rise through the air. Watching the birds use the thermals was another highlight.
This was the beginning of an amazing three day trip in Arkansas. I was not too surprised of the beauty of the state parks. I liked seeing a different part of the state. This was also hike 28 of my 52 Hike Challenge Explorer Series. The start of these 52 hikes have been amazing so far.
Next up is another Arkansas mountain.