City vacations are great, but sometimes you just need to get out and explore the outdoors. With summer nearly upon us, there is no better time to explore the vast American wilderness. Hiking can be a rewarding pastime for those who want to experience nature first hand. While there is often a misconception that you must be in excellent shape to undertake a hiking expedition, this is not necessarily true. In fact, there are many hiking trails that offer beautiful scenery and are still suitable for beginner hikers. The hiking trails around Broken Bow Lake are perfect examples of this type of trail. Set in the Oklahoma wilderness, the area surrounding the lake is full of breathtaking scenery and long, meandering hiking trails.
Broken Bow Lake is set in the middle of Oklahoma's Beaver Bend State Park. It is part of the Kiamichi Country area, one of six official travel destinations designated within the state. While Kiamichi is generally known for its welcoming Southern culture and is often referred to as "Little Dixie," this part of Oklahoma is truly breathtaking. Kiamichi Country is filled with vast mountains and acres of wilderness. It is also home to a number of lakes, including Broken Bow Lake, nestled in the heart of Beaver Bend State Park.
The region is known for its scenery and several of its scenic drives have won awards. The area is often referred to as the "Deer Capital of the World" and you may come across a number of species of wildlife as you hike along the trails. The beavers, which give the park its name, can still be seen along some parts of the lake and adjoining rivers. The area is also great for bird watchers, who flock to see wild Oklahoma woodpeckers in their native habitat. Broken Bow Lake itself also draws a number of trout fishers each year, although you should make sure to have the proper license if you want to catch your own lunch.
There are two main trails in the area surrounding Broken Bow Lake. Both trails are found along the Mountain Fork River at the bottom of the main lake. The first, and longest, trail is the David Boren Hiking Trail. Although referred to as a single trail, it actually encompasses a number of hiking paths that stretch a combined 16 miles. David Boren is an ideal trail for a first visit to the park, as it offers the most options for exploring the wilderness, and provides camping areas along the route. The main 12 mile hiking trail offers easy walking with several steeper grades. It stretches from the southern end of Beaver's bend, all the way north, where it connects to the Beaver Lodge Nature Trail. Although it does not loop back to its start, most of the steeper grades are found in the latter part of the path. Those who want an easier hike can double back when they reach the Beaver Lodge section of the hike. The main trail is well defined, yet narrow enough for only one person at a time. David Boren also includes a wider, 4 mile trail suitable for mountain bikes.
While David Boren is the main attraction for most hikers coming to the park, it is not the only great hiking trail in the area. The Bee Branch hiking trail is one of the most recent additions to the park. At only 5 miles long, Bee Branch does not allow camping en route, but is perfect for a day of hiking. The main entrance to the trail is located next to the Hwy 259A South entrance, near the Forest Service Information Center. There is a second trail entrance just north of the Southern Hills cabin area, making this a great day trail for those staying in the cabins.
Author: This is a guest post by Kim Kennedy who works at a property management company that offers Broken Bow cabin rentals at Beavers Bend State Park.