Whether you’re new to hiking with your baby or toddler, or you’re looking for a new trail to explore, the Hike it Baby community is a valuable resource for finding family hiking trails around the country. In this article, we share three kid-friendly hikes in Oklahoma to explore with babies and young children.
Hiking with young children (under 5 years old) is different from hiking with school-age children. These three unique places in Oklahoma offer families of young children exciting adventures while considering the unique ways young children hike, wander and doddle.
Gloss Mountain State Park (Fairview, OK)
Located two hours west of Oklahoma City is Gloss Mountain State Park, a series of mesas that jut out from the landscape in the middle of nowhere. The red dirt welcomes visitors in the distance long before you reach the entrance. Once you enter the park, there’s a parking lot with some picnic tables and a restroom – which is the only restroom, so be sure to use the restroom before your ascent to the top as there are no restrooms on top of Gloss Mountain.
The trailhead starts at a short bridge and continues on a boardwalk before taking hikers up a series of metal stairs. The hike up the stairs may not seem intimidating at first, but don’t be surprised if you find yourself out of breath. Fortunately, there are benches along the trail for anyone who needs to catch their breath or to let faster hikers pass. The stairs end for the last few feet of the hike, where some scrambling is necessary to reach the top. There’s also a hand rail for those who need extra assistance. Once you reach the top, the views are amazing as far as the eye could see and the trail continues as far as you’re willing to hike.
- If you’re carrying a baby, make sure you have some help to get over the last few feet. If you have a kiddo who can walk, it’s a good spot to let them down and practice their climbing skills here.
- Bring sunblock and wear a hat as there’s not much shade on top.
- Make sure you watch young kids and keep them away from the edges.
The Gathering Place (Tulsa, OK)
While it’s not a traditional “trail,” The Gathering Place is a great option for getting kids outside and playing in a huge outdoor classroom. Located east of the Arkansas River and south of Downtown Tulsa, The Gathering Place offers five acres of attractions that are hands-on, interactive and nature-related. Kids of all ages will enjoy hours of climbing, sliding, swinging, collecting, banging, balancing, skateboarding, biking, boating and anything else you can imagine.
If you stay long enough and have the energy, go across the street and walk a bit of the River Parks Trail and catch the sunset. The paved trail is 10 miles and is used for walking and biking year-round. From The Gathering Place, you can avoid traffic by traversing the above-street walkways that connect The Gathering Place to River Parks Trail.
- Park hours are 9 a.m. until 10 p.m. and offers programs and activities throughout the day and evening.
- Street parking is limited, but there’s a large free lot across the street. Just be careful to keep young kids close as the streets around The Gathering Place are busy.
- Due to its popularity, the park gets crowded so make sure you locate restrooms on the park map so when the kiddos need to go, you know where to go.
Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge (Lawton, OK)
Located in southwestern Oklahoma, the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge spreads out over 59,000 acres with buffalo, Texas longhorn cattle, prairie dogs, elk and deer. Various outdoor activities are available for outdoor enthusiasts, such as hiking, camping, mountain biking, rock climbing and more. For something more organized, the refuge also offers guided tours.
There are nine trails to choose from that vary in distance from 0.3 mile and goes up to just a little over 5 miles. Or if you’re looking for something longer, combine all the trails for 10 miles. But because hikers share the trails with wildlife, pay attention to the trails as animal trails can be mistaken for hiking trails.
- Because the trails are in full sun, wear sunscreen and hats. And bring lots of water to avoid heat stroke.
- As the terrain is rocky, make sure you wear sturdy shoes to help maintain your balance.
- Cell phone coverage is spotty, so either bring a map of the trails or take a picture of the map on your phone so you don’t get lost.
Photo by Lisha Newman from www.travelok.com.
What are your favorite hikes in Oklahoma for families with babies, toddlers and young children? Leave a comment below!
MORE RESOURCES FOR FAMILIES WITH YOUNG CHILDREN
Oklahoma offers an abundance of trails for families with young children. For more family hike ideas, see:
- Hike it Baby calendar (or connect with local branches)
- Hike it Baby Family Trail Guide
- Oklahoma state parks
- Hike it Baby: 100 Awesome Outdoor Adventures with Babies and Toddlers – New Book by Hike it Baby Founder Shanti Hodges
If you’re traveling through Oklahoma and need more information or recommendations on trails or would like to join a group hike, the nearest Hike it Baby branches are Tulsa and Oklahoma City.
- 3 Exciting trails in Texas to explore with young children
- 3 Family-friendly hikes in Arizona
- 3 Kid-friendly trails in Kansas for young children
Photos by Vong Hamilton and Lisha Newman.