Oklahoma City, OK: Wichita Mountain Wildlife Refuge

Watch for bison, elk and other migratory species on this easy 3.7-mile lollipop loop through oak forests and grassland in southwest Oklahoma's Wichita Mountain Wildlife Refuge.
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Watch for bison, elk and other migratory species on this easy 3.7-mile lollipop loop through oak forests and grassland in southwest Oklahoma's Wichita Mountain Wildlife Refuge.

This easy route combines the Longhorn and Buffalo trails for a trip to French Lake. Beginning at the Dog Run Hollow Trailhead, follow the Longhorn Trail east, crossing Fawn Creek and rolling uphill then down through an open oak forest. After a moderate descent, turn north onto the Bison Trail. Ahead, the path winds through grassy prarie and passes a stock pond before turning right at the next trail junction for an eastbound descent. The descent ends at Cache Creek—if the water is low, cross the creek to a 40-foot bluff offering great views of French Lake and Elk Mountain to the west. The trail skirts French Lake for 0.4 mile before gradually turning south past an alternative trailhead, closing this route’s loop, and backtracking through the prairie.
The wildlife refuge is home to many species including bison and elk—look for signs of the park’s 650-head herd of bison and listen for elk bugling in the fall. For more information visit the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge.

-Mapped by Chris Jennings

Trail Facts

  • Distance: 6.0

Waypoints

WMT001

Location: 34.71615, -98.7061

This mapped route heads east on the Longhorn Trail from the Dog Run Hollow Trailhead. There is a quick dip to cross Fawn Creek before the trail begins a gentle climb.

WMT002

Location: 34.7156167, -98.70145

The first half-mile of this hike is a very gentle climb, but this outcropping at mile 0.3 is a good spot to stop for a rest or snack.

WMT003

Location: 34.7151333, -98.7007167

The red dirt and granite trail begins gradually descending towards the upper branch of West Cache Creek.

WMT004

Location: 34.7139955, -98.6983824

Turn left at this signed junction to merge with the Bison Trail and continue north.

WMT005

Location: 34.7149, -98.6984

The trail follows a dam near this small stock pond before traversing an open prairie. Rocky soil prevented farmers from utilizing this area and it is a good example of local native grassland.

WMT006

Location: 34.7193166, -98.7004833

Nearing the woods, turn right at this T-junction onto the Longhorn Trail. This spot marks the beginning of the route's 1.7-mile loop. The climb continues for another 300 yards before the trail begins dropping toward Cache Creek.

WMT007

Location: 34.722438, -98.6933398

At mile 1.5, this route turns left, merging again with the Bison Trail, just above Cache Creek.

WMT008

Location: 34.7231669, -98.6935759

Stop for some exploring: If the water's low, rock-hop across the creek and scramble up the 40-foot bluff that offers good views of Elk Mountain to the west.

WMT009

Location: 34.723355, -98.6988759

Stop on the eastern edge of French Lake to check out the drainage structure of the lake's dam. If you brought fishing gear, scout the south shore for good spots to cast.

WMT010

Location: 34.7212504, -98.7031889

After leaving the lake, the trail passes left of the French Lake Trailhead. Continue straight at the junction and begin the easy climb toward loop's end where you'll turn right to backtrack toward the trailhead.

Cache Lake

Location: 34.7235608, -98.6931145

Hopping across Cache Lake on a rocky bar allows access to the bluff top on it's eastern side.

Map

Location: 34.7161613, -98.7060843

A trail system map at the trailhead

Fawn Creek

Location: 34.7157417, -98.7054849

Crossing the Fawn Creek, which is often dry

Outcropping

Location: 34.7155888, -98.7014401

Flower

Location: 34.7155006, -98.7008822

Prairie

Location: 34.7145305, -98.6983287

The trail rolls through oak forests and this area of mixed-grass prairie.

Descent

Location: 34.7201569, -98.6980069

Hikers navigating the rocky, gradual descent towards West Cache Creek.

Shoreline

Location: 34.7230494, -98.6935008

Hikers exploring the rocky shoreline of Cache Lake

Bluff

Location: 34.7232786, -98.6925781

Atop the 40-foot bluff on the east side of Cache Lake

Bluff

Location: 34.7235079, -98.6927712

Bluff-top vegetation blooming in the spring

Cow

Location: 34.723843, -98.6967838

You never know what you'll see on the trail. The refuge is home to bison, elk and several other native, migratory--and domestic--animals.

French Lake

Location: 34.7232963, -98.6989725

Fishing in French Lake

Structures

Location: 34.7236666, -98.6991441

The river and lakes are controlled by a series of dams and concrete spillways. It's possible to wander around and explore this one.

Shoreline

Location: 34.7235608, -98.6991012

The rocky shore and bluffs above French Lake