See You On The Trails

Disclaimer: I’m slow, uncoordinated, lack any training discipline, and suffer from one leg being longer than the other, so please seek actual advice from Instagram, YouTube, or better yet from one of our many local metro professionals if you are serious about any physical training. 

Over the past 18 months, I have traveled well over 10,000 highway miles and have hiked some of the most majestic trails in the United States. I plan to continue my road trips, but as we have started to slowly return to “normal” and get back to the grind, I’ve not had as much time for my getaways, so I must seek some local adventures. I have recently signed up to participate in the Mid-South Double. This consists of a 31-mile run and 100-mile bike race over the rolling gravel hills of Payne County, which, I have no business partaking in as I don’t even have a bicycle to use for this occasion. But this is okay because, for me, it’s about the love for adventure outside, not the result.

Over the past few months, Oklahoma City Community College has been fortunate to bring in a large number of new hires and not just local talent, but from across the country. These new hires come from states such as Maine, Oregon, Texas, California, and Colorado. Places that are known for their outstanding outdoorsy way of life. 

I was recently talking to one of these new hires, and he mentioned that it didn’t appear that Oklahoma City had much to offer in this area. My first instinct was to agree. I think this is probably just because I have lived here most of my life and the setting just becomes familiar and we take for granted what our City has to offer, the accomplishments we have achieved over the past decade, and what we are continuing to strive for. 

I live in the Village, where after almost 70 years, they are finally putting in sidewalks and attempting to connect them to the Lake Hefner district. That’s another article for another time, but seriously, who takes a year to build a sidewalk to just have it end 20ft before the crosswalk?

Now, I love to run when the leaves start to pile up on my front door and the temperature starts to drop. I believe this is the best time to get your outdoor cardio going in Oklahoma, so I just thought this would be a good reminder for those who have lived in the Oklahoma City metro for years and for those who have just arrived recently of my top outdoor areas to visit in the metro where you can train for your first 5K, the OKC Marathon in April of 2022, or just to get outside and peddle your cruiser after feeling guilty for binge-watching 6 hours of the “Squid Game” on Netflix.

Lake Stanley Draper – East of Moore, 14 Miles from OCCC.

Whether you like pavement or dirt pathways, Stanley Draper has it all. In 2019, with the help of MAPS 3 founding, 13.5 miles of paved roller coaster bike and walking trails were completed around the lake. This is also a perfect spot for exploring the woods on a Saturday, with over 7 miles of well-maintained trails for hiking, mountain biking, and trail running.

Jeff’s Tip: Because of its expanse twisting dirt trails that intertwine, it can be easy to get turned around and lost – literally, I got lost. So make sure you have a charged phone, review the trail map, and bring extra Cliff Bars. 

Lake Hefner – Northwest Oklahoma City – 18 Miles from OCCC

 Lake Hefner provides 9.4 miles of paved trails around the lake. It’s perfect if you want to get your heart rate up then grab a bite to eat at a restaurant on the lake. You can observe the other outdoors-people and sailboats as you watch an epic Oklahoma sunset. There’s nothing more perfect, really. 

Jeff’s Tip: On windy days, you want to hang tight to those handlebars while crossing over the dam. Better yet,  just stay on the south end in the safety of the trees. 

There is also a very pretty park, Bluff Creek, located on the north end of Lake Hefner off Hefner Road. Here, they have five challenging dirt trails and a  one-mile scenic paved loop with connecting sidewalks to make your jog longer. This is a great area to take your professional family photos for that Christmas card.   

Scissortail Park – South of Downtown Oklahoma City – 7 miles from OCCC

The park officially opened in September of 2019, but I’ve just recently explored this trail series and have been very impressed. The paved 13 miles of trail follows the Oklahoma River with downtown Oklahoma City as the backdrop.  If sweating isn’t your thing the park hosts festivities and events year-round. There are also plenty of great restaurants located on the downtown side of the river, like my favorite, the Wedge Pizzeria.

Jeff’s Tip: For those who are wanting to get in some serious miles on the bike or in the running shoes the trail system actually connects from Scissortail to Lake Overholser and then down to Lake Hefner. Just remember your spare tire and air pump. Lesson Learned.

Arcadia Lake – East of Edmond – 25 miles from OCCC

Arcadia Lake was completed in 1987 but lacked quality trails until 2017 when the 2.5-mile Spring Creek Trail opened for running and cycling use. The Arcadia Lake Multiple Use Trail is 6.5 miles of well-groomed winding dirt trails. This trail system is great for mountain biking or just a leisure nature walk. Eventually, the plan is to have an entire loop around the lake. 

Jeff’s Tip: Beginning in November through February while you are hammering out those hill repeats on the Arcadia dam and feeling the burn keep your head up and you just might get lucky to catch a glimpse of our migrating bald eagles. 

I’m not trying to encourage anyone to visit and register for your first Ultramarathon, but I am challenging you at the very least to get out on those occasional Oklahoma winter days that get into the 60s and find an outside adventure. If you are looking to start running and cycling and are not sure where and how to start, go visit our local running and cycling stores. Most of them have group runs and rides weekly at no expense with all levels of experience. See you on the trails!

Jeff Sughru is OCCC Human Resource Consultant for which he was hired on May 17, 2018

He has lived in the OKC area for almost 40 years and has visited and spent many hours at all of the local parks mentioned.

Sughru lives in the Village, which started construction in the 1950s and where over the past two years they have started to build a network of sidewalks

In just the past 18 months Sughru has visited 12 National Parks across the country, climbed four 14,000 foot peaks in Colorado, and hiked/ran countless miles in 10 states.

Sughru started running 7 years ago and has competed for fun in 5Ks up to 30K races both paved and trail runs. He is entering the Mid-South Double in March of 2022 which will be his first bike race.