Saturday, February 1, 2014

Hiking in the Wichita Mountains: The Post Oak Waterfall

Ready for another hiking adventure? Today we'll check out a waterfall. Oklahoma style (small). Nevertheless, cool.
Post Oak Lake and the side of Elk Mountain (to the left)

View: Not too shabby.
Hiking level: Easy. Easier than The Narrows
Round-trip walking time: 40-60 minutes maximum at a nice leisurely pace, and not at my leisurely pace (fast).

Hiking tips: Wear good shoes! And make sure you take water. Keep your eyes peeled because there's always something cool to see (from flowers, to frog rocks, you never know!)

How to get there from the Wichita Mountains Visitor Center: Turn right from the Visitor Center's parking lot onto hwy 49, at the stop sign turn right and continue on this road passing Camp Doris, Burford Lake, and Prairie Dog Town. Turn left onto the next road to your left after Prairie Dog Town. There will be a sign stating Headquaters. You'll be on this road for a while. After it takes a sharp 90 degree right, and driving through the fun curves, the first road to the right is your turn-off. There should be a sign saying Treasure Lake. If you go past Job Corps, you've gone too far. Follow this little road all the way back to the parking lot. 
There's a little cave on the west side of Post Oak...

A little bit of orientation. If you have a map with you, the lakes are labeled wrong. Post Oak Lake = Treasure Lake and Treasure Lake = Post Oak Lake. If you're facing north (directly opposite from the road you drove in on), Post Oak will be to your right and Treasure Lake will be  to your left. You'll have the south wall of Elk Mountain facing you slightly to the right. Various legends claim that there's treasure to be found amongst that wall. Well, according to the legends, that treasure could be on any mountain north of Post Oak Lake, but I like to think it's on the side of Elk Mountain. Cortes, Belle Star, and Jesse James all are said to have left a little something in our midst. Rumor has it that on a summer's afternoon, a glistening can be seen on the side of Elk Mountain. This glistening is alleged to be a door leading to the Spaniards gold which is guarded by the spirits of the Native Americans they left with the treasure. Not sure I'd break that lock knowing the wrath of some angry spirits be waiting on the other side. In fact, I think I'll pass. I like my karma just the way it is.

The top paragraph boiled down: the Wichita Mountains are full of history, legends, and awe-inspiring nature.
Back to the waterfall and my Ellenbrook-like instructions.

There's a trail going towards Elk Mountain by the "You are here station" for lack of better words which houses a map. You'll want to take this trail. You'll walk through an open area plateau. In the spring this open area is covered in pink and yellow blooming cacti. The pink barrel cacti, Baileyis Lace in local vernacular, are only found in the Wichita Mountain area! You'll also pass a sun-dial looking rock on the right of the trail. This stretch of trail will lead you to the beginning of a brushy area (post oak trees- amazing red leaves in the fall, by the way) where the trail descends. At the bottom, the trail will run parallel to the creek on your right. You won't be able to see the waterfall, but if the water level is decent, with a good ear you should be able to hear it. 

Taken from the Waterfall facing the trail (on the other side of the tree).
 Cross the creek and look for a game trail, it's not as visible as the previous trail. It's probably a 75 yardish walk back to the waterfall. A nice spot for a picnic!

As you leave the waterfall, heading back to the trail, you'll see this guy:
Rock Frog
Heading back, the trail picks up again once you've crossed the creek, turn left heading south. You'll notice the trail branches. Stick to the right if you want to head back the same way you came. Or, take the path on the left which will curve around Post Oak Lake back to the parking lot (recommended!).

Happy exploring!

Greetings from Oklahoma,

Dani (Wanderings of a Girl Ryder)

This blog is brought to you by the lovely (biased opinion, we know) Stone Turtle – Lodging, a small family owned and operated hotel / lodging business near Lawton, Oklahoma, Fort Sill,  the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, Meers and Medicine Park. Yeah, that’s right we’re a small lodging business close to all the awesomeness Oklahoma has to offer!!

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