Just because you live in a capital city doesn’t mean you can’t explore the great outdoors. In fact, the area in and around Oklahoma City offers an abundance of great places to hike. Whether you’re looking for an easy walk you can take with the kiddos in tow or you want something more challenging, our area has it all.

Not sure where to start? Crème de la Crème of Oklahoma City has you covered. We put together this list of some of the best hiking spots within about an hour or less from Oklahoma City.

Oklahoma River Trails

A father walks with his daughter on a hiking trail near Oklahoma City, OK

man in gray crew neck shirt carrying girl in white long sleeve” used with permission via Unsplash by jrlawrence

You don’t have to leave Oklahoma City when you’re looking for a great place to hike. The Oklahoma River Trails, two trails running north from Meridian Avenue and south from Portland Avenue along the Oklahoma River, offer the perfect setting for hikers of all levels. The trails span 13 miles in total, while approximately 6.5 miles of dedicated asphalt trails on both the north and south banks of the river.

The smooth and level pathways are perfect for a leisurely hike through downtown Oklahoma City. Tree-lined trails translate to scenic views along the waterway, wetland areas, and parks. If you’re looking for a longer hike, you can easily connect to other area trails as well. You can continue along the Bricktown Trail, Katy Trail, Lightning Creek Trail, South Grand Trail, or West River Trail.

Make sure you reserve some time for a side trip to see the SkyDance Bridge, an unusual bridge inspired by the scissor-tailed flycatcher, the state bird of Oklahoma. This bike and pedestrian bridge is just six blocks from the trails.

You can get to the north side of the trails from these parking areas:

  • Regatta Park off Byers Avenue (west of the Byers Avenue Bridge).
  • SW 15th Street (between Walker and Robinson).
  • Wheeler Park (SW 9th Street and S. Shartel Avenue).

You can get to the south side of the trails from these parking areas:

  • River Park (SW 8th Street and S. Agnew Avenue).
  • SW 15th Street and S. Meridian Avenue.
  • SW 15th Street (east of S. Portland Avenue).
  • Wiley Post Park (SE 17th Street and S. Robinson Avenue).

Bert Cooper Trail

Lake Hefner, located just 10 miles north of downtown Oklahoma City, offers an amazing backdrop for another day spent hiking close to home. The 9.1 miles of paved asphalt on the Bert Cooper Trail makes hiking fun for the whole family. You’ll also find plenty of amenities at this 2,500-acre urban lake, including picnic areas, grills, playgrounds, restrooms, and boat and fishing docks (including an enclosed heated fishing dock).

Most of the Bert Cooper Trail follows Lake Hefner’s shoreline, so you can look forward to gorgeous views of the water and watching migratory species as they go through the park. Walk to the peninsula for sunset views at the lighthouse at East Wharf, the state’s only lighthouse, or pay a visit to Stars and Stripes Park. As you go, you’ll get to explore wooded areas or refuel at lakeside restaurants. For even more hiking, you can connect to the Hefner-Overholser Trail near Britton Road or at Canal Road west of the lake.

You’ll find portable toilets and water fountains around the trails, taking the guesswork out of heading out for the day with the kids. The trail is open from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. each day.

Clear Bay Recreation Area Trail System

You’ll find the Clear Bay Recreation Area Trail System less than an hour from Oklahoma City in Norman, making it another amazing option for families looking for a great place to hike. The trail system boasts 18.5 miles of trails along Lake Thunderbird’s south side. The system is made up of five interconnecting trails, offering the option to hike each trail on its own or do the whole thing as a loop.

If you’re looking for an easier hike, you’ll want to go for the 1.5-mile Green Loop or 1-mile Yellow Loop. Intermediate hikers do well on the Red Loop or Blue Loop, which span 1.25 and 4.75 miles respectively. Have a family full of expert hikers? You might give the Gold Loop a try. With 10 miles of switchbacks, bypasses, a rock drop, and a bridge, this trail is truly tricky and offers a challenge even for experienced hikers.

Roman Nose State Park Trail System

With four interconnected trails in one picturesque spot, the Roman Nose State Park Trail System means endless opportunity for outdoor fun close to home. The system is beginner to intermediate level overall. You just have to drive for a little over an hour to explore this exciting trail system, which delivers a unique experience through mesas, canyons, and rocky outcroppings. Cactus plants lend a desert-like feel to the experience.

Here’s a look at the different trails you’ll find when you arrive:

  • Lake Loop Trail: Lake Loop Trail starts on Lake Watonga’s northwest side, taking you along a fairly straight path that eventually curves to bring you back to where you started. You’ll get to climb up some rocky formations along the way, and can meet the Mesa Loop Trail.
  • Mesa Loop Trail: This trail winds along the east side of a mesa before ascending to Inspiration Point, the perfect place to relax and take in the views of the rugged landscape and beautiful lake. Part of the trail meanders through cedar trees and cacti. If you keep walking, you can curve into the Lakeshore Loop Trail.
  • Lakeshore Loop Trail: You can look forward to great views of the lake on this path as it hugs the shoreline for part of the way. This trail gets you to the Two Lakes RV area on Lake Watonga’s south end.
  • Black Loop Trail: Starting at the Lakeshore Loop’s southeast edge, the Black Loop Trail features more challenging terrain. You’ll hike in and around a canyon on this trail. The loop eventually brings you back to the Lakeshore Loop Trail, so you can either head east to the other trails or go west to the RV area. 

That concludes Crème de la Crème of Oklahoma City’s list of great hiking options close to home. Did we skip your family’s favorite hiking spot? Let us know if we missed your go-to local trail so we can add it!