Sunday, March 18, 2018

Hiking on Skyline Trail

The skyline trail at Beavers Bend State Park of Oklahoma is the longest (7.3 mile) and most difficult trail of the Park's David Boren Hiking Trails (DBHT) system. I picked Skyline trail for the second day of our trip at Beavers Bend mainly for one reason - to  have only one outdoor activity for the second day , which lasts 5  - 7 hours. Despite the fact that  I was worried that it was too long and difficult for most people in the group, I did not change the plan after talking to a few man in the group.

After a hearty breakfast, we left the cabin for the Beaver lodge nature trail trail head near  Broken Bow lake spill way. We parked at parking lot on the west side of the dam at the spill way, walked down slope to the Beavers bend lodge nature trail trail head at the spill way.

It was a cloudy morning, and temperature was around 60F, perfect for hiking.

After some photos at the bottom of the dam and spill way,we started hiking on the Beavers lodge nature trail - which follows the spill way creek. This is a pretty trail by the  river bank. The sound of rushing white water, the boulders, rocks in the creek, small water falls along with the clearing sky - white clouds, blue sky ... made us stop frequently to take pictures, and our teenagers to play.  It took us 55 minutes to finish the 1 mile hike to reach the  trail head of skyline trail.

our trail
Broken Bow lake spill way
taking picture of the water fall at the spill way
The group
stop to play on beavers loge nature trail
one of a few water falls
Enjoy the nature
the moms
Large red letter SL and red marker with a hiker profile indicate the start of the Skyline trail for us, we started at the trail marker SL 28.  The trail starts with the steepest hill t thehat has largest elevation change of the whole trail, fortunately everyone was near their full strength at the moment, and the whole group made it to the top of the first "peak" without problem. We would encounter 6 more such steep slopes, the rest of the slopes have smaller elevation changes but just as sleep. Some adults started to lose breath, and needed a hand as we moved on.

On the trail, we saw the dogwood flowers here and there, an indication of coming spring, and small flowers near the ground. We heard bird chirping all day long but rarely saw.

There is up, there must be down ....we crossed many creeks in the valleys, some dried, others have running water. Watching carefully, some creeks had transparent small fishes in them. At one crossing, we saw a "large" black insect in clear water, which turned out to be the shadow of a water insect walking on the water surface!

From 5  to 6 miles on the trail, we were right by the mountain fork river, on top of a several hundred feet tall, nearly vertical cliff. I guess it is where the name skyline of the trail comes from. Then we were on another stretch of skyline from 7 miles to 8 miles! We did not loop back to Beavers lodge nature trail to get to our vehicles because many in the group were exhausted . In the end  we had two victims of the hiking, one injured her left ankle, the other had a minor heat stroke!  Nevertheless they were very proud of themselves for hiking the longest most difficult trail of their lives!! 

Floating on mountain fork river, and kayaking in the cypress tree dotted river used to be the main attraction at Beavers Bend for us. Skyline trail is the new featured attraction!

One of the very steep slop
Elevation change (in meters) of the trail

purple flowers


a creek 

Watching carefully a water bug enlarged shadow in the bottom

Another creek transverses the trail

On the skyline looking down at Mountain Fork River

Note: Beavers Bend State Park is free for admission but it has several deficiencies - too few public toilet, and the park map and trail map are not very clear.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Spring Break at Beavers Bend OK

This Spring Break we went to Beavers Bend at Broken Bow, Oklahoma, with 3 other families, for a 3 day, 2 night trip. 

When we got to the Cedar Bluff area for paddle boat, kayaking, the greenish cypress trees in the water that I remembered were not there, instead the cypress trees were bald and grayish. The only obvious indication of spring was the early spring flowers in Oklahoma: the dogwood flowers and peach flowers dotted in the surrounding area. Looking carefully, some trees did start to bud. 


The group kayaked or paddled boats in the mountain fork river between two small dams at two bridges. There were surprisingly many people doing the water sports that day. Lily and I kayaked in a tandem kayak, first we paddled upstream, passing many paddle boats, avoiding racing kayaks from youngsters. We paddled to the north bank of the river, where the Sun shone and few boats/kayaks were there. I steered the kayak close to the bank, and zigzag through the bald cypress trees in the water, passing cedar bluff, and met many large turtles resting tree branches in the water,  we went further west, all the way to the upstream bridge. A father and son were fishing on the bridge, I waved to them and greeted them. They waved back. As we returned to the boat rental area, we paddled to the nearby downstream bridge through a narrow path between a small island and north bank, and inadvertently kayaked into a swimming area. When we realized that we should not be in the area as we saw a guy swimming,  a shop clerk came to us by a kayak and told us to leave the area.  It  was an easy 30+ minute leisure kayaking.

We left the park 4pm or so to check in at the cabin. As we arrived at cabin, we were impressed by its size, its huge connected 2-story area of family room and kitchen. The cabin also has a patio for BBQ, outdoor fire ring and Jacuzzi hot tub.  We have two fathers who are great at grill. We had BBQ dinner on the patio. As it got dark, we started wood fire in the fire ring, sitting around it, roasting bananas, grilled corns, chatted about many different topics until the fire faded. The kids joined their parents for a short period of time, and returned into the cabin to play cards and pool table.

The second day we hiked a 8 miles beavers lodge nature trail + skyline trail. The skyline was a difficult trail with very steep climbs. Most people in the group hiked for for the first time on such a difficult and long distance trail. Everyone in the group finished the hiking on their own, many of them were proud of their achievements! 

The decision to go on this spring break with 3 other families and to share the log cabin was a great one. Parents got time to talk and play, our teenage children had friends to hang out, to talk to and to do outdoor things together, which made the boring trip with parents fun.