Tidbits: Highest point in Oklahoma
Summitted, September 25, 2006
Time Zone: GMT -7 hours
When to go:
There is only one route that I know of, through the Black Mesa Nature Preserve owned by the Nature Conservatory.
Hotel and Climb Reservation:
No guide, permit, or trail reservations are required.
Common-sense gear for a moderate (about 9 miles roundtrip) day hike, along with lots of water, especially in the warmer months.
From Rt. 325 in Kenton, OK (just east of the New Mexico border), proceed about 1/2 mile through "town" (The Kenton Merc is your landmark...at the time of my hike it was closed and possibly out of business). Make a left and and proceed north for about 5 miles. The Nature Preserve parking area is clearly visible on the left.
After the below-freezing temperatures on Mt. Wheeler in New Mexico the day before, the relative warmth of Oklahoma was a nice change. The drive from New Mexico to Oklahoma was a bit odd...there were sections of road that I drove on for 50 miles at a time without passing one single car or person. Absolute nothingness. In fact, so few people come to this area that there is parkland in the vicinity where dinosaur footprints are still visible by the streambeds. Not encouraging for the real estate sales forecast I guess. Make sure you fuel up and get provisions where you can. I would estimate that the nearest food/gas facilities are between 25 - 75 miles away, depending on the road/direction you are traveling.
After arriving at the trailhead and reading the Rattlesnake warnings, I headed out on the well-marked trail, which is actually an old dirt road. The map showed the trail as 4.3 miles to the summit with about 780' of elevation gain. The first section had very slight elevation gain and nice views of the Mesa ahead. There are some sections where the road forks, but it is difficult to make the wrong choice and there are trail markers every 1/2 mile or so. About 3 1/4 miles into the trail, you actually begin to ascend the Mesa itself. Not too steep, but it takes a little effort and most of the elevation gain is in this short section.
The summit of the Mesa was interesting. When you reach the top you still have to walk nearly 1 mile to go across the Mesa to the high point (the Mesa extends SEVERAL miles in the other direction). Black Mesa is one of the largest Mesas on the planet and is over 40 miles long extending into three States (Colorado, New Mexico and Oklahoma). There is a nice marker at the summit. The temperatures rose steadily during the 3 hour trip and was around 92 degrees (remember, it was the end of September) when I returned to my car.
Traveling the lonely roads of Oklahoma to get to the trailhead
The entrance gate (free access, no permits needed)
Typical trail section