Oklahoma Adventure Trail

dirtpro06

Member
Allrighty it's time for another segment of "how long is it going to take this guy to complete the OAT?"

This time I went over the segment from Salina to Sallisaw for a second time. The main purpose today was just to get the new 4runner on some dirt, get it in 4wd and play with some of the settings to see how it handled.



TUL-Salina, big skies aren't just in Texas! Also it's summer soooo...bug poop.



Well this is my 3rd rig pic at this plane so I guess it's a thing. Salina aquired.



Can't drive hungry so I snagged some lunch here. I like to try to find local places to eat and this seemed to fit the bill. Today was meatloaf day so naturally I partook. It was good enough that I'd go back. Now on to the actual driving - I tried to take pics in different places from last time for the most part.



Headed out of Salina into the backcountry. Roads are paved up to this point, to include where my wheels are right now. As you can see, that changes to dirt rather abruptly once we pass this super professional sign.



I'm always blown away by the tree tunnels that abound on Oklahoma back roads. The photo sucks, also bug poop...but yay trees.



Miles of dirt road interrupted by a 90 degree pavement crossing. Weird, no idea who picks which roads get pavement and which don't but they sure are random!



Illinois river shot, it seemed mandatory. The river was at a normal depth but signs of recent flooding were all over. The road was partially washed away in a couple spots due to undercutting.



Storm damage was all over too. For those unaware, OK has had a record spring for severe thunderstorms and flooding. Numerous trees had simply fallen over with their entire root ball going with it due to the ground becoming totally saturated. It's sad because most of the trees that have fallen are the old growth that will take years to replace.



Tiny fire department in the woods! I found this on my way south out of Stillwell and it seemed like a good spot for a photo.



Found this old bridge farther south between Stillwell and Sallisaw. Obviously no longer in use but it's nice to see that it's still in place.



The day drawing to a close I jumped on I40 and headed back towards Tulsa via Muskogee.

Overall I was very impressed with the truck. I tried various combinations of 2wd, 4hi and terrain select settings. In 2wd it handled like an average rwd truck on dirt. With 4wd and terrain select on....it was like driving on pavement...and I probably drove too fast...and might have caught some air....allegedly. Seriously though, it was great. The truck handled small and large bumps, ruts, etc very well. I've got a 2 day trip planned in a couple weeks so I'm really looking forward to that!
 

prerunner1982

Adventurer
After topping off on gas I took the highway south to Poteau and summited the “worlds tallest hill”…whatever that means!
To add a little context here:
Mountain:
noun
a natural elevation of the earth's surface rising more or less abruptly to a summit, and attaining an altitude greater than that of a hill, usually greater than 2000 feet (610 meters).

As Cavanal hill is 1,999' elevation it' can't be any higher and be considered a hill.
I had no idea it was in Oklahoma much less why it was called the worlds tallest hill so thanks to your post I went and looked it up. Looks like a nice little stop.
 

dirtpro06

Member
Allrighty it's time for another installment of the OAT! I had two days to burn on my own since the wife was out of town so naturally it was time for another trip. As an aside, I'm actually really enjoying travelling solo. I've only done so a few times but it turned out to be really fun. Anyways - the plan was to start at the salt plains and work my way clockwise (mostly south and east), stopping by the Washita battlefield and ending up somewhere near Ft. Sill, possibly stopping by the museums there.

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I got out of the house in good time and enjoyed that big blue sky on the first not terribly hot day in quite awhile. Getting off the highway on to country roads is always refreshing, hence the photo.

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I passed through a few towns on my way to the salt flats, most seem to be going strong despite the lack of modern amenities.

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I stopped to check a couple important emails and decided a quick break was in order. The gas station I stopped at (only one in tow) happened to have a rather crowded lunch counter so I paused for a burger and to enjoy the sights and smells. Across the street, a man fixes a bulldozer with the aid of a small crane. Just to the left is the centerpiece of the town, a large grain elevator similar to the one in the photo above.
 

dirtpro06

Member
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Not long after lunch I found my first dirt road of the trip and shortly after I made it to to the salt plain!

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gucci pic just because. The salt is actually just a very thin crust - about 1/4 of an inch thick in the places I was. Note, for those wanting to drive out on the plain, it's closed in the fall/winter for something about a bird migration which is why I wasn't able to on our first leg of the trip.

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From the salt plain I followed the route down county roads and a little bit of highway until I saw a couple random plateaus sticking up out of the otherwise flat landscape. As I got closer, I noticed some forestry signage and decided to pull in. Turns out this is called Gloss Mountain and it's a state park! The peak is only a couple hundred feet above the parking area which is in turn in a saddle between a few similar plateaus. Naturally, I decided a quick jog to the top was in order.

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The trail is rather steep and is more of a stair climb than a hike.

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After a 5 minute cardio push I made the summit and took some time to catch my breath. I highly encourage anyone in the area to check this place out, it's truly beautiful. I purposefully just took photos only back towards the parking lot for perspective but also because I can't give everything away!
 

dirtpro06

Member
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The remaining driving for this day was fast, mostly straight and filled with wide open skies. Oh and windmills too. I wish I could have gotten closer to get a better photo of the sheer size of these things but alas this is the best I could get. I found many times that I'd reach speeds of upwards of 60mph on these straight hard pack dirt and gravel roads. The suspension on the truck was ridiculously stable even at speed and the whole system worked together incredibly well. I grew up driving desert roads in the Mojave and through the Sierra Nevada's but have never had a truck handle this well.

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Several locations had evidence of prairie fires and the associated regrowth.

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I left the route at hwy 33 and ran east to Cheyenne. I arrived at the Washita prairie about an hour after the building closed but was still able to walk through their outside exhibit, The Dust and Fire Trail. It features an overlook over the preserve to show how the land looks when left to it's on devices, an old dougout shelter and several native plants. It really doesn't talk about why this place is called a battlefield so I suppose I'll have to research that online. I rejoined the route at the intersection of N1940rd and E0 980rd, approx 14S 045147 393900.

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The next segment went through cattle country which was very pretty and consisted of quite a few small lakes.

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I left the route at HWY 6 just north of Sayre and snagged some dinner in Elk City. Over dinner I found a local hotel deal and ended up staying in the Sleep Inn. The pool and jaccusi were a great end to the day and I slept great!
 

dirtpro06

Member
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Day 2 was to be the water crossing day. There are 3 water crossings on the route and I was set to do all three today. I took HWY 44 from Elk City to Sayre and rejoined the route there. Above is the first crossing with all of about 3 inches of slow moving water over nicely packed sand.

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The terrain in this area is very pretty. The plains are very flat with random sections of rather steep bluffs and rolling terrain. This area has farming, ranching and everything in between and the entire look of the place can transform in a manor of a few hundred feet by just cresting a hill or turning a bend. It's amazing and something I am not used to. Growing up in CA I knew what kind of scenery I would see and terrain I'd be driving on prior to starting the day. If I'm in the mountains it's trees and mostly packed dirt or mud. Desert? Bushes and sand/gravel/hard pack etc. OK has it all and I routinely found myself having to load another type of driving into the forefront of my brain to adapt to the quickly changing road surfaces.

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Water crossing was closed via a gate on each end - pardon the bug guts on the windshield, despite washing it and the headlights at EVERY stop it remained pretty gross.
 
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dirtpro06

Member
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I was excited to see water crossing number 3 because it was marked on the map as difficult and I enjoy a good challenge. At this point I was fairly confident in the truck and felt like I could handle it being the route was put together by motercycle riders. However, that was not the case. The riverbank has about a 10ft 50ish degree drop on both sides and I forgot my dune buggy. I imagine this has to do with the record rains we had earlier this year and hope that someone runs a dozer through here rather soon so that it can be passable again.

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I'd picked up some lunch enroute to this crossing and intended to eat it sitting in the middle of the river...something I used to do in my first 4runner. Instead I enjoyed it on the riverbank and rerouted from there.

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From this point the terrain turned gradually from dead flat to scattered hills and ultimately resulted in the Wichita mountains. Passing through the town of Meers I located the Meers store which I'd heard a lot about. I had remembered that the store was closed on Tuesday but apparently they are closed on Wednesday too (says so in large print right on the side of the store!) so I missed out on that one. I drove over to Mt. Scott but the road to the top was closed to vehicle traffic...strike two! However, driving through the park I realized this would be a decent place to bring the wife with several things to do in close proximity.

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I'd never heard of Medicine Park before but just like that I'm pretty sure I need to hide out for a few days here. There's a swimming hole right in the middle of the town and cabins/shops all around. Looks pretty great and I'll be back.

From here I had to make a choice. I'd discovered an area with a few day's worth of activities that are all wife friendly...and conveniently located near the museums at Ft. Sill so I could try to knock a couple of them out and then jet home pretty late or I could call it a day, head home a bit early and save them all for a follow on trip. I decided on the latter approach and followed the route to Elgin for an afternoon meal and HWY 40 back home.

Overall this was a fun leg of the trip - in totally different ways than I expected. The OAT strikes again! In a good way lol
 

dirtpro06

Member
Well I'm off on another twoish day jaunt on the OAT. Goals this time were to find a bit of rugged terrain to run 4 low, the locker, etc through it's paces and possibly get some night driving in to test the need for additional lighting in the future.

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This time I started by taking highways to Heavener and swung by the rune stone. It's a big rock in a weird little building. The info posted at the gift shop about it possibly being from vikings that sailed around Florida and up rivers was interesting but no one was around. A sign stated that the park is staffed by volunteers and something about sorry for the inconvenience. It's sad to see historical stuff somewhat forgotten but I can't help thinking that maybe this artifact could be collocated with others in a museum to allow more efficient use of funds. Anywhoo on with the trip...

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I jumped back on main roads and met up with the OAT at 15S 032915 385378. My topo map shows this as the intersection of CR212 and CR197 but street signs call the main E/W road Holson Valley Rd and the N/S road 6010.

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Moving south I met up with the hwy 1 the Talimena Scenic Byway and continued on the OAT to HWY 63. This section is very scenic and an easy drive. The OAT turns south from here and quickly gets fairly rugged. I call this section the Pre-K trail because it follows the same hill as the K trail, just on the east side of HWY 259. I don't remember this section being difficult a year ago, just rocky in a way that required me to drive slow to avoid obnoxious bouncing. This was not the case this time - I not only had an opportunity to test out 4-low, crawl control, atracs and the locker but I probably really needed a couple of them! Driving clockwise/east to west gave me several steep, rutted and stepped climbs and I was very impressed that the truck simply followed the line I picked. It never bottomed out, shuddered, spun a wheel or anything. I'll be honest, I was trying to get it cross loaded, get a wheel up and was generally picking the crappiest line I could to get it to fail and it never did. This was no triple black ninja trail but it would have required a helping of skill to drive in the previous trucks I've owned. I don't have any experience with motorcycles but since the OAT was pioneered by dual sport guys I try to think about how they would fair over each section. If you're on two wheels with a touring load I'd expect difficulty. It would be much easier to approach from the west/counter clockwise direction. IIRC there are plenty of rocks and such but only one or two decent ledges to climb in that direction. Large portions of the trail were about ATV wide and it appeared that my Runner was about the largest thing through in a long time. The pre-k itself took about 2 hours to get through.

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I completed the pre-k at about 9pm and decided to jet the highways back to heavener for the night. This was my second time staying at the Green Country inn, it's mostly a place for railroad crews to catch a night's sleep between shifts but the price is right and it's clean and not sketchy so I'd recommend it. It's also the only hotel in heavener lol!
 

dirtpro06

Member
Day 2's focus was to put some miles behind me. I took the highways to the gas and food point near 15S 034596 382028.

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Quick aside: I'd heard that one's vision changes as we age. What I didn't know is that apparently I'd be able to see things that are invisible to others!

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This stretch starts out as farm/cattle country and then pushes through a long stretch of lumber holdings. It was interesting to see various tracts of land each in a different phase of regrowth.

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Anyways, it was all very pretty and roads waged from the usual narrow country roads to dirt semi truck highways with perfectly manicured crowns and ditches....all that was missing were sidewalks.

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Broken Bow wasn't super interesting, a bit further on was this little historical site. Sadly it was closed. Quick internet research shows I didn't miss much.

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My last stop was Hugo and I go to see "Showman's Rest". It was cool, definitely a unique place. Time necessitated that I head back at this point but I am looking forward to continuing the journey.
 
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