One of the best ways to spend weekends in Altus is hiking. Several trails are less than an hour from base and offer options ranging from quick there-and-back walks to all day hike options. Plus, many of them are set in mountains, breaking up the usual flatlands with rewards of impressive views at their summits!
Charon’s Garden, Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge
Charon’s Garden is a 2.5-mile trail in the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge. This one-way trail is a great option if you’re looking for a hike that’s strenuous enough to feel like you earned a burger afterward and ends with a great view. When we have guests who want to hike, Charon’s Garden is our first choice. It feels the most like climbing an actual mountain, and there’s a surprising view at the top of the beginning of the Wichita Mountain Range. We’ve done this one in all seasons, so whether you’re craving some greenery in the summer or epic-looking rocks coated in snow in winter, it’s a good choice.
Bison Trail, Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge
Also located in the Wildlife Refuge, this 5.7 trail is one of the few loops in the park. This is a favorite because the trail meanders through several ecosystems, offering perspective on how diverse the prairie really is. From woods to grasslands to lakes, there’s a little of everything. The trail follows a canyon for about a mile, giving you some unusual views for the normal flatlands of western Oklahoma. They aptly named it the 40 Foot Hole, and you can sometimes see climbers rappelling down the sides. It’s also the trail that we most consistently run into bison and longhorns right along the trail! Keep your distance, but we’ve never had them show any more interest than watching us pass. In spring you’ll even see calves! For the best experience, start with the western section of the loop. Just turn right from the trailhead.
Baldy Point Trail, Quartz Mountain
Technically part of Quartz Mountain State Park, this trail isn’t located in the park but rather an annex of a neighboring area. If it feels like you’re driving on someone’s land to get to the trail, you’re on the right track. This area is known primarily as a climbing area but has a great 1-mile trail around the base. After you park the car, turn right to follow the trail around the base. When you leave the tree-studded area, there’s a turnoff to head up the slope, which takes you up to some beautiful views. My favorite time of year for this trail is winter because the red rocks and lime green lichen seem to burst with color in the cold air.
New Horizon Hiking Trail, Quartz Mountain
This one isn’t so much a trail as a chance to boulder for a view. Also part of Quartz Moutain State Park, it’s only a 1/2 mile each way, but the most strenuous of their hikes. Think of it as a climbing adventure, and don’t bring your pup with you on this one. You’ll be rewarded for your efforts with gorgeous views of the town, Lake Altus-Lugert, surrounding mountains and farmland as far as the eye can see. It has great views once you get there, but I don’t know anyone who’s actually managed to find any trail markers after the first 200 yards.
Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge has trails of all lengths and intensities, and Quartz Mountain State Park is dotted with quick hikes that could fill a weekend if you did them all back to back.
What’s your hiking style? Have you found any great trails near Altus? Let us know in the comments!
Post and photos by Emma Myrick