Oklahoma Adventure Trail

#1
I'm currently in the process of building up my equipment and experience to the point of being able to do some larger trips. At the same time I'm teaching my wife the ins and outs of living outdoors since she missed the childhood of camping and backpacking I had. Each trip we learn new things and target additional things to learn on our next trip. For instance, this was our first trip that was primarily on the road rather than sedentary. My intention is to log our progress on the OAT over several trips both to try to help out those who may try the route after me and just to keep track of our lessons learned and maybe even get the word out a bit more about this cool route.
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We first hopped on the OAT where it crosses HWY412 just west of Keystone Lake. We followed the route south and quickly found our first landmark of Frog Rock. After the required photos, we continued west along a mix of gravel roads with a sprinkling of pavement.
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We crossed a cool bridge and eventually popped out on the north bank of the Cimeron river and stopped at the graffiti wall for a light lunch.
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Our next leg of the trip was a bit longer but we arrived at the shoot out memorial before too much time. There wasn’t much to see here so we continued on. The road quality declined during our next leg of the trip. When they were gravel, good time was made but many miles were simple dirt roads and many showed erosion damage. Caution had to be taken as there were numerous ruts crossing the road, especially in low spots that would bottom out our suspension if taken at more than single digit speeds. Now that said, our Xterra is stock with 160k miles so this may not be as big of a deal for those with significant upgrades.
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Also of note in this leg was quite a bit of mud. As anyone from OK knows, that red earth turns snotty slick when wet and there was about a 200yd stretch that I walked before proceeding as we were travelling with one vehicle with street tires, sans winch or MaxTrax. This was really the only part of the route that I wasn’t 100% confident I could pass without issue. In this specific instance I had to engage 4wd to get through about a 50ft section of deep mud but had no issues remaining in 2wd the rest of the trip. I never aired down either as we were constantly on and off pavement and I don’t have a compressor on board yet. My plan of action in case we did get stuck was to engage 4wd, air down and dig out in that order. The route never gets super remote and we did have go bags in case we had to leave the vehicle as a last ditch redundancy.

We stopped by Lake McMurty on our way into Perry and surveyed it as a possible campsite as it was nearing dinner time. Like the other Army Corps of Engineers campsites in OK, it has ample camping, cabins and RV slots, restrooms, a boat launch, etc. It looked like a great place to camp with small clumps of camping spots here and there rather than a huge group of them in one place. That said, our target camping location was the salt flats so we continued on to Perry for dinner.
Over dinner we discussed what our next course of action should be. We had spent about 6 hours on the trail at this point and if we continued along it to the salt flats we estimated it would take roughly the same amount of time or longer. As it was already after 6pm we weren’t very excited about that so we explored some other options. We settled on taking the highways out to the salt flats and taking the OAT back towards Tulsa for as long as time allowed the next day.
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We arrived at the salt flats campground around 8pm, set up camp and spent some time stargazing before bed.
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The next morning we ate a nice breakfast overlooking the spillway and jumped back on the road to the viewing area. Unfortunately, it was closed so we weren’t able to drive out on the salt flats. I’m not sure when the gate is open but I anticipate we’ll do some research and come back again at another time.
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From here we went into Cherokee for gas (our first fill up after leaving Tulsa) and then proceeded east to pick up the OAT again.
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Our next point of interest would be the cowboy tombstone/Chisolm trail rest stop. We would cross several highways through our day and decided to assess our drive time and decide whether to continue down the route or hop on the highways and head home at each crossing. Roads on our second day were a mix of gravel and red earth, almost all of which we could fly down. This enabled us to follow the entire OAT back to Perry despite our assumption from our progression the first day that we would have to cut out halfway at best.
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The cowboy tombstone was neat, as was the Chisolm trail rest stop marker as well. It’s crazy to think that not too long ago, brave men (and I assume women too) braved what was considered a very dangerous Oklahoma to get their cattle, aka their entire livelihood to market.

From this point, it was a turn and burn to Perry. I was motivated to stick to the route so that I could provide some sort of report on road conditions/bridges out for those to follow. We cruised back into Perry and snagged HWY 64 east to home.

Speaking of bridges out, we found several. In my next post is a photo and grid of each along with how we got around them.
 
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#2
We found several bridges out on our route - all were easily circumnavigated due to the 1mi grid street system we have in OK. Each will contain a short blurb about how we got by and what we found. Each bridge was obviously out of order, and all coordinates are in UTM datum.

Bridge 1: 0705310, 3997416. This was bypassed by simply boxing back east, north and then back west and south.
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Bridge 2: 0619345, 3063243
This road was very obviously no longer maintained as we crossed N2990rd and it may in fact now be private property as it appears that it's been annexed by the neighboring field. To bypass we backtracked and jetted south to HWY 60 and went back east to rejoin the route.
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Bridge 3: 0629012, 4042428
This bridge may also now be on private property as it literally disappeared once we crossed N3050rd. Once again we boxed around without issue.Sorry for the sideways photo, can't seem to get this one to upload properly...
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Bridge 4: 06655528, 4065493
Again, this bridge was obviously out although the short jaunt from HWY 15 to it was very pretty - it was a refreshing short section of woods driving (and just muddy enough to be some fun) after the hours of bare, flat western OK terrain. Again we boxed around to the west and continued back on route.
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Other notes: the water crossing near Perry was dry.
 
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Martinjmpr

Wiffleball Batter
#4
Do you have a map or a link to the OAT? My earliest years were spent in NE Oklahoma and I'm interested in seeing where the route goes.
 
#5
I'd be interested in a link to info and resources on this route too. I'm not too far south and this looks to a lot of fun, even if for just a long weekend.
 

userg3

New member
#9
I had never heard of the OAT but just read all 44 pages over at advrider. Putting this down as something to check out, thanks!
 

Martinjmpr

Wiffleball Batter
#10
#11
I was able to load the gpx into topoquads 10 on my laptop. I have a usb gps receiver and that's what we used with google maps on our phones as back up/for satellite views. You could also download Garmin Basecamp to view the file.
 
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#12
Ok, on to section number 2. This time I went with a buddy and this doubled as a shakedown trip for his new Tacoma. Like before, we intended to be out for two days and stop at one of the many campsites along the way for the overnight. However, Oklahoma being the way it is, decided to jump right past spring straight into summer and we decided to just make this a day trip to avoid the inevitable night of sweating instead of sleeping.

This time we picked up the OAT in Cleveland, a few miles away from where we started our last trip. This time we followed the OAT clockwise, or east in our neck of the woods. This enabled us to stay close to home (Tulsa) on the off chance we ran into trouble as the route pretty much traces around the metro area, staying about an hour away at all times. Driving out of town, the road was pavement until we came to the "T" near New Prue.
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The road curved to the right with a driveway looking road headed off to the north which was the correct route. Note, we're turning right onto this road cause we missed it the first time around!
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The next section of the route was through a very large ranch on mixed dirt and gravel roads. This was through high plains, slightly rolling and with a drop into a large river valley on the other side.
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The river valley turned out to have Skiatook lake filling a large portion of it.
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The next location of note was Birch Lake. We dropped out of some low hills and crossed the dam, pausing at the Corps of Engineers restroom to stretch our legs before moving on.
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Continuing on towards Dewey, we intended to stop at a local shop for lunch and drop in at the Tom Mix museum as my buddy's dad is a big western fan. However, we found the local cafe and museum were both closed! Not sure why, it was about 1pm on a Monday...so we decided to find a nice quiet spot to eat some food we'd brought with us. We headed north on HWY 75 out of Dewey following the route until it indicated that we should turn east on W1100 RD. We'd seen a marker slightly off the route for an old bridge and headed west on W100 RD to find it. Fortunately, no turns were necessary and after a couple miles the road turned north, ducked through some woods and popped out on to a nice old truss bridge. Here we relaxed in the shade, took the obligatory "truck in it's natural habitat" pic and ate a light lunch. The bridge is a 14S 0766321 4084346.
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#13
The next leg of the trip went a little faster, with very straight paved and dirt roads the miles flew by. Terrain was mostly prairie but every so often the road would duck into the trees and squiggle around to cross a creek and then run nice and straight for several more miles.
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One feature of note in this area are the "mounds". There were quite a few on my topo map, and each was simply a very random, strangely shaped hill in the middle of an otherwise perfectly flat landscape.
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We grabbed some dinner at Mi Granja in Adair and pushed on to Salina before taking the highways back home. This part of the route was quite a bit different than the first and while in short we traveled very similar back roads, the flavor was just different enough to feel....different. Hmm maybe I ought to invest in a thesaurus. Anyways, I'm looking forward to picking the route back up for another leg of the trip and working my way south near the AR border and down towards Texas.
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#14
Time for another segment! This time I explored solo, for about a total of 8-10 hours. I wasn't in a hurry, just took things easy and enjoyed the outdoors. You'll notice in many of the photos that despite it being August, we had low hanging clouds all day which kept the temps to a high in the low 80s and maintained a wonderful breeze. I rolled in third gear with the windows down almost all day!

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This leg of the trip began right where the last left off, in Salina. I took a moment to double check the Xterra was good to go, ensure my nav software was up and running and get everything set for the drive.

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Soon after leaving Salina headed east, the route turned south and we ducked into the woods on a nice, narrow and windy road. This would become the norm for this leg of the trip. The feel was much more along the line of the Ozark foothills. Gone were the endless sections of 1mi grid roads. This was my kind of driving!

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Many of the roads hug a hillside along the edge of a valley or field. It's clear to see that these were plotted to allow fields to be the maximum size that the topography allowed.

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Just like that we jumped into a different county and the pavement disappeared. I was instantly aware that I was way out in the middle of absolute nowhere. Ancient cabins and single wide trailers went by intermittently and none appeared to be newer than 1970s vintage. This was true Oklahoma backcountry.

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This remoteness would be interrupted by intermittent signs of modern life. Along this particular section of road, two bridges appeared out of the trees. This was an underpass crossing of Highway 412 with no on or off ramps. The lack of a connection gave an interesting dichotomy of the modern and the ancient sitting only yards apart yet completely separated in their ways of life and connectivity to the outside world.

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The bridges even had their own dog.


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One item of note - the route shows that we are to cross the Illinois river via a bridge next to this rafting business. However, the bridge no longer exists. It is supposed to be near 15S 0327820 3988960 (UTM). I wanted to follow as much of the route as possible so I made the necessary pavement detour northeast along the river, crossed it and came back down south and a bit west on the dirt road. This added an hour or two to my trip but I was very glad I did.

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Crossing the Illinois on my detour

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Here is a bit of the beautiful dirt road that took me back towards the missing bridge. This was a particularly scenic portion of the drive - very peaceful and the weather was perfect.
 
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#15
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Continuing my trip back to the bridgehead, I stopped for some obligatory photos by the beautiful Illinois river.

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Plenty of fields along the river filled with cattle

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And here is the aforementioned missing bridge. Across the river you can see the kayak rental business which now uses the site as a boat launch and campground.

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From the bridge, I backtracked along the route now continuing in my intended direction of travel.


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The next interesting thing I came across was a small hollow where every tree, bush and piece of ground was covered in ivy! It was the strangest thing and I've never seen anything like it. You can also get a feel for how remote the road is. Several times it was hard to tell which road ahead was a driveway and which was the route.

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And just like that, the ivy was gone and we returned to our regularly scheduled flora and fauna.



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Another abrupt change-I turned a few corners and this took me from desolate dirt road to a highway leading straight into the heart of Stillwell. I took this opportunity to snag some gas and an afternoon burger before heading back out into the sticks.

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Stillwell disappeared as quickly as it had appeared and soon I was back in the rolling hills, fields and woods of eastern Oklahoma.

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Suddenly a large school appeared! This seemed to happen from time to time - miles of remote track with a random large church or school complete with landscaping, sod grass and a football field with bleachers. Just over the rise in this photo, the trees come back together near a low water creek crossing and you'd never know you were just a few hundred feet from all this.

One note - sorry for all the "hood pics". My intent for this trip was to get out and enjoy my day off so photography came second.
 
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