Category Archives: Turkey Mountain

A Hike on Turkey Mountain – Meditation in Motion


I found me a gnarled old tree. I love gnarly.

Saturday morning I didn’t have any obligations. Heather went off to teach her classes and the kid didn’t want to go walking or hiking or much of anything. So I went off to Turkey Mountain all on my lonesome.


A perfect trail, I love the dappled sun.

I like exploring Turkey Mountain with my family or friends but I am okay with it on my own as well. I get totally lost in the moment feeling the sun or shade on my face, the heat, humidity, what the ground feels like under my feet, other people up there and everything else. It is all just part of the whole. You can’t keep your head in the clouds though. You have to keep an eye on the trail so you don’t trip plus the copperheads are out and they are hard to spot.


An open air auditorium. The trees make a natural archway.

So I have a rough idea of what I want to do but I feel free to change it up as the mood strikes me.


Slow and steady down the this steeper than it looks and rocky trail.

Turkey Mountain is just so lush and green this early in the summer. Give it time under some hot sun and the green will lose its freshness and the ponds, creeks, and springs will dry up. It’s all part of the cycle.

Relive ‘Morning Meditation in Motion on Turkey Mountain’

I can walk an hour or two and it seems like five minutes.

Turkey Mountain Patterns and Textures


Wednesday night and a storm popped up headed for Turkey Mountain. Huh oh, there goes my run I thought but a check with Accuweather showed that it was going to be done quick. So I gather up my stuff and headed to the park.


As I got there the storm was trailing off. Yahoo is what I said. I wasn’t too worried about mud. Something about the mountain makes it shed off rain really quick.  I noticed a couple of younger people doing some pretty good tricks with their bikes. I don’t know about you but I couldn’t pop a wheelie on regular sized bike in a hundred years. They made it look effortless.


So off I went into the cool, wet, dripping woods. I loved the textures of everything and the sound of the dripping all around me.


Everything was glistening.




And there were colors! The fresh new growth of spring is showing the stress of our high heat plus the bugs and mildew our eating on them. It made for its own kind of beauty. The dirty little secret about Turkey Mountain is that there isn’t much color besides green. You have to hunt for other colors.


So I started tuning into the different patterns and colors the mountain was showing off.


You know, you just have to stop and sniff the weeds every now and then.

Turkey Mountain Trails Added to National Trails System

National Trails System Logo

Exciting news to many of us here in Oklahoma. The National Park Service announced the designation of Turkey Mountain’s Red, Blue, and Yellow trails (about 7 miles total) as part of the National Recreation Trails and will be added to the National Trails System. The announcement comes just in time for National Trails Day.


No, this doesn’t mean that the Feds are coming in to take over the trails, the designation recognizes existing trails built and maintained by others. The National Park Service will provide special trail markers and add it to their web site. The main thing is that the designation provides additional credibility to those who are trying to get grants for Turkey Mountain. 


Kudos to the Tulsa Urban Wilderness Coalition who led the effort behind the scenes to get the designation. UWC is quite an organization. They started last year in response to a tone deaf effort by the City of Tulsa and Simon Properties to build a cheesy outlet mall on Turkey Mountain. Thanks to the efforts of TUWC and other organizations, the community rose up in opposition and Simon is proceeding on building the mall at a more appropriate location. I was amazed, do you know how many times Oklahoman’s are successful in opposing bad development ideas? Very few times is the answer.


So this is great news but the preservation of Turkey Mountain is still a process more than event. Steps are continuing to be made by both private and public entities. The citizens of Tulsa passed a bond issue to provide funds for the purchase of the proposed Simon Malls site. After the close on that purchase, the River Parks Authority, who administer the land, installed new cable and post fencing to keep vehicles off that property. The vehicles were tearing the trails up and some of our fellow citizens were dumping their trash.


So we have recognition from the Feds which helps but Turkey Mountain still needs lots of support from the community.

Turkey Mountain Map

Read the Tulsa World Article on the designation

Download a map and check the trails for yourself.

Check out the Tulsa Urban Wilderness Coalition, get involved.


Turkey Mountain Cleanup Day and the George Kaiser Family Foundation Purchases the Simon Malls Tract

Over 120 people of all ages showed up  for the Tulsa Urban Wilderness Coalition‘s Winter Cleanup Day on a beautiful Saturday morning. We picked up trash, lopped off limbs, seeded, and shaped trails for several hours this morning.


I worked with John and Faith on the lower portion of the blue trail. I had some loppers (that is what I call them) with me and I was exhausted at the end of a mere two hours. I left them to go fetch Logan and they were still going strong. I like pruning branches in the woods. When I prune at home I have to bundle everything up just right for the city to pick them up. Up on the mountain I just toss the branches I cut deeper into the woods.


And a week ago we got some great news on the future of Turkey Mountain. The George Kaiser Family Foundation has purchased the 60 acres on the west side of the mountain that was slated to be developed by Simon Properties into an outlet mall. The foundation owns another 200 acres of land on the mountain and the new tract will be used to expand the footprint of the public wilderness area.  It is a win/win. Simon Malls decided to build the mall on a more appropriate site and the private landowners of the 60 acres got paid for the value of the land that we users of the mountain enjoyed at their expense.

So it has been a great week for those of us that love Turkey Mountain.

Keep Turkey Wild!


Not Quite Singing in the Rain – Getting Soaked on Turkey Mountain

During the downpour yesterday #DownTownTulsa

Wednesday nights are my night to go running after work. I have a little routine. I leave work and go to a liquor store and pick up some craft beer and then I head out either to the Arkansas River trails or Turkey Mountain. Last Wednesday it started a downpour just as I was leaving downtown but my good ole Accuweather app on the phone said it was not going to rain for at least two hours so I’m good right?


So started out on the Yellow Trail taking pics with my Ipod Touch using the Hipstamatic App. I just love blurry photos. My intention was to try and do six miles or so.


This is my favorite spot on the Yellow Trail. I just tell people to follow the arrow. Nobody listens to me but I say it anyway. I repeat myself a lot that way.


This is my favorite new landmark on the Yellow Trail. It reminds me of something new I’m reading a little about lately Trail Marker Trees.  Trees that Native Americans shaped as trail markers or other uses. Check the link. I’d love to see a few live. I’m a little skeptical about them personally.


I stopped a smelled a few roses. Metaphorically.


And check out some color.


Just as I got to the north end of the Yellow Trail it started raining, hard. I put away my Ipod and got out my waterproof Nikon. People tell me about how much they love raining in the rain. I don’t like it too much but if you are out in it and wearing tech clothes then it is not so bad. I decided to cut my run short and run the upper Yellow trail back.


The mud sticks to your shoes and things get a lot slipperier but I eventually got back to my car.


The only thing worse than running in the rain would be riding a bike. The thunder and lightening was getting pretty bad also. That can ruin your whole day.

If I had it to do over again, I’d do it over again. And no, I didn’t go home and drink the beer I bought earlier. You see we are much more godly people in Oklahoma than where you live because our laws don’t allow us to purchase cold full strength beer. So I drank some of the beer I bought last week!! That is called pre-planning.

I’m linking with Our World Tuesday

Simon Malls Withdraws Proposal to Put an Outlet Mall on Turkey Mountain

Wagon Wheel Lake

Wagon Wheel Lake on Turkey Mountain

Great news for those of us who love Turkey Mountain. The City of Tulsa announced that Simon Property Group has formally withdrawn their proposal to build an outlet mall on Turkey Mountain and will pursue building the shopping center in the Tulsa suburb of Jenks. I love that Simon came to their senses. Building a shopping center on the mountain was a very stupid idea for a bunch of reasons. Kudos to a lot of people and organizations and especially the Tulsa Urban Wilderness Coalition for getting this stopped. It is not often in Oklahoma that the people step up and say no to big business on something dumb like this. Their efforts got a lot more people into the park which made things kind of crowded sometime but I think people realized what a treasure we whad.

Tulsa World Article Tulsa Frontier Article

Yogi’s Den Previous Posts on the Outlet Mall – Tulsa, Oklahoma – News, Weather

Simon Property Group Pulls Plug on Turkey Mountain Outlet Mall

Have you heard the news!! Simon Property Group is abandoning their Turkey Mountain outlet mall project. They are going to put it in a much more appropriate site in the Tulsa suburb of Jenks. Read about it here. A site that people repeatedly brought up during the discussions on the project. The site should work better for Simon.

Turkey Mountain Topaz Glow Dizzy Late Afternoon Sunlight

Of course the city of Jenks will get the sales tax revenue, or at least the promise of it given the huge subsidies that Simon was looking for in terms of paying for infrastructure and other types of corporate welfare they were looking for to help with the economics of the their project.

Sunset Turkey Mountain

I couldn’t be happier for all involved. Now comes the real work. Money needs to be raised to buy the remaining land on Turkey Mountain at market value in order to preserve it. Tulsa is growing and it is just a matter of time before somebody else tries to develop it. It is not fair to the landowners to expect them to provide people like me free land to enjoy.

In the meantime, I’m happy that Simon came to their senses. I don’t think they expected the buzzsaw of opposition that they riled up with their proposal. I’m also proud of my fellow Tulsans. Despite Oklahoma’s populist roots, large corporations do pretty much what they want to do in Oklahoma these days. It is nice to see a little push back in a case like this where something bad was fixing to happen (as we say in Oklahoma.)

Public Meeting on the Outlet Mall on Turkey Mountain


Tuesday night I went to a public meeting regarding Simon Group’s plans to put an outlet mall on Turkey Mountain. It was hosted by the City Councilor from the area, Jeannie Cue a very energetic and impressive woman. She made sure everybody who wanted to say something got to say it. There were other people there from the city including some planning staffers and Clay Bird of Tulsa’s office of Economic Development.


The bravest guy there was a local attorney representing Simon. He was hedging his bets a little bit speaking of Simon in the third person.


The city wants more businesses especially retail. The development guy, Clay Bird, said that Tulsa gets all its income from sales taxes.  So retail is something that they target. I get that.  I think most people get it, they just don’t want a mall on Turkey Mountain. Bird didn’t seem to grasp why. He kept saying things about it would only take up a little bit of the mountain and surely we could co-exist with the mall. That wasn’t really well received.


He lost the crowd though when he tossed out an idea that a parking garage could be built on the mountain to accommodate both mall shoppers and park users. People couldn’t believe it and let him have it. He recovered quickly with a quip about maybe putting a climbing wall on the side of the garage. He’s a good guy but he doesn’t get the concept of wilderness. Hiking, biking, or running on Turkey Mountain is not like doing the same in a public park. One needs the sense of space and remoteness and isolation.


During the Q&A it quickly became apparent that the overwhelming majority of people were okay with malls just not on the mountain. One comment that brought cheers was “It is the right project in the wrong place.” There was a lot of emotion against the mall. One guy spoke up for it pointing out that it is private property and he thought this was America. He got a smattering of applause.

Turkey Mountain

And that brings up the whole problem. We may be able to get Simon to go away but the property is still private and it is zoned for development. As one questioner commented, we better be ready to buy the property if the mall fails. Amen. Anyone can see why Simon is interested in the property. It is near the confluence of two major highways  in a hot area of town.

A spokesman for the Greater Tulsa YMCA read a Statement from the their Board of Directors stating their opposition unless Simon makes some concessions. They are asking about assurances on storm water management, water quality, setbacks, and maximum allowed building height. The proposed mall, as it is designed will loom over the YMCA’s Westside Y Day Camp unless changes like these are made.

It is kind of hard seeing how this can proceed. Through the efforts of such groups as the Urban Wilderness Coalition it seems that the profile of Turkey Mountain as something good is being raised. I can tell you that the park is being used considerably more than what it was even last year. I’m seeing lots of families out and about in the park.

Personally I think Simon Property Group should abandon their project. And then it will be up to people of Tulsa to acquire the property at a fair price.

Extra Information – Tulsa, OK – News, Weather, Video and Sports – |

Channel 6 was there

And Channel 5 was there

Tulsa World report on the meeting



More on the Outlet Mall on Turkey Mountain

I’m such a slacker. The Tulsa Urban Wilderness Coalition held a very successful cleanup on Turkey Mountain today (Saturday). I didn’t make it because I took son to his horseback riding lessons and then to his Improv class. I went by the main parking lot at Turkey Mountain over an hour late and it was cram full. So I drove up close to where Simon Property Group is planning to put their “Upscale Outlet Mall” (Whatever that is) and took off with my camera.


I started at the natural gas pipeline right of way. The pipeline had been marked. This is a safety procedure. Generally anywhere in the country if you are going to dig or drill or do anything that might affect underground structures, you call a number. In Oklahoma it is” 1-800 Call Okie”  and tell them where you are going to dig or drill and anybody who has underground utilities will send someone out to locate their lines. It keeps everybody safe.


So anyway the pipeline company located the line and cleared out their right of way a little bit.


I wandered around and found where the contractors hired by Simon Property Group had moved their equipment in. I have to tell you that this is somewhat of a “me to” post as two excellent bloggers have already told this story. Ken, aka “Trail Zombie” one of the leaders of Tulsa’s thriving trail and ultra running community has posted on …..miles to go before I sleep… as well as Bob Doucette who has a great outdoors oriented blog proactiveoutside, Check them out. They both bring a lot of passion to the situation on Turkey Mountain.


I followed the track and found some of what I would call gratuitous damage. Damage that was done for no purpose. Keep in mind that this is not public land, it is private land so I guess they can do whatever the landowner will stand for. Still, I spent years building pipelines all over Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi and I never met a landowner who would stand for this kind of damage during the survey process.


This tree was documented by both Trail Zombie and Bob. TZ measured it at 31 inches across. It seems to me that it was cut down just for the fun of it.


These survey sticks with the ribbons seem to be where they are drilling for cores.


More needless damage.


Here is the core drilling rig and the Bobcat used to clear the path for the rig. They were taking the day off on Saturday. Or what the heck maybe the crew was participating in the cleanup.


A closeup of the drilling rig.


And some other equipment in the brush.


And some logs cut into firewood length.


After a while I came to the northernmost basket on the Westside Y’s disk golf course.


Right nearby were these three sticks together. I wondered if this might be the northern boundary of the proposed mall property.


Right adjacent to it was this ancient fence line.


I ventured further to see if I could find any other damage. I didn’t see any and eventually came upon the edge of the Westside Y proper. This is Lake Logan.


Backtracking, these ribbons caught my eye. They were marking the waterway that feeds Lake Logan.


I followed them upstream for quite a ways. I’m guessing it was well marked to make sure they didn’t get their equipment didn’t get in there. What I’m afraid of is that all the construction upstream would cause a lot of runnoff into the Y’s lake  where they have a popular day camp in the summer.


As I followed the waterway I saw some of these survey stakes very close to the water course. I’m anticipating that very soon the Bobcat will be clearing a trail down to the creek in several places so that the drilling rig can take some core samples.



If Simon Property Group is allowed to build their mall then this trail and others in the area are going to not be there any longer.

What to do?

Contact the Mayor, Dewey Bartlett

Find out who your Council Member is and tell them what you think.

Tell Simon Property Group what you think about their proposal

Check out the Tulsa Urban Wilderness Coalition

Question:  If it is private land can’t the landowners do whatever they want with it?

Sure, especially in Oklahoma. It is anticipated though that they will want  special tax breaks and subsidies for the infrastructure needed plus improved roads to the site. Simon Property Group is a very wealthy company. If they want to build a mall while spoiling a major part of Turkey Mountain then I don’t want to subsidize them with my tax dollars.

Question: Should the landowner be expected to continue to provide the land for the trails for free?

Of course not. Tulsa needs to buy the land and other tracts not already owned by the city or the George Kaiser Family Foundation  if it is to be protected long term. Where will the money come from? I don’t know. I do know that things that are a priority get funded.

Question: Am I against outlet malls or against development?

No I am not outlet malls. I think Turkey Mountain is the wrong place to put one. My preference would be to put it somewhere where it doesn’t affect outdoor recreation. I also think Simon Property Group is a responsible company. They own and operate Woodland Hills Mall near where I live. I don’t think they are making a good choice by pursuing the Turkey Mountain site.

Turkey Mountain – Still Saying No to the Mall


Since the controversy erupted about Simon Properties‘ plans to put an 800,000 square foot outlet mall on Turkey Mountain you would think that all there is on Turkey Mountain is trails. Goodness knows there are trails on Turkey Mountain.


There are big wide trails and there are very faint, barely used, tracks through the grass and brush and everything in between.


The trails are used by runners, walkers, hikers, bikers, and even a few unicyclers. There is a lot more than trails on Turkey Mountain. Yep.


There are petroglyphs. I had heard about them and it took me a while to find but I finally found them.


Some say they were made by the vikings way back when or the Celts. Who knows. I think such things are a lot more interesting than anything I have found in an outlet mall.


What do you think?


I’ll tell you something else that goes on up on the mountain. Logan and I went up there to check our geocache in an area called Rock City. We found a several guys up there with their radio controlled jeeps negotiating the rocks. It was pretty darned interesting watching them maneuver their cars around the various obstacles.


Now that beats the pants off an outlet mall any day. Well guess what. I’m not really sure but if that mall goes in I am thinking that Rock City will be part of the mall. Yep, the best you can hope for is a Nike discount store. Buy two get a third half off is my motto.

Rock City Collage 2

Do you know what else goes on up there. Geocaching and geocaching is all about families and being outside and adventure.  Kiss that goodbye also.


And you know something else, geocaching is all about whimsy and serendipity. You won’t find any elves doors at the mall. Not one you could afford anyway. This one is free. It is on a pretty darn steep slope. Find the cache with one hand and hold for dear life with other is the method I recommend.

Oklahoma Rock

Know what else? How about an Oklahoma Rock? It is probably safe from the bulldozers, for now at least. You know how it is, haters have to hate, and developers have to develop. It’s in the Bible somewhere. I think.


The thing about Turkey Mountain is that is not a real wilderness. It has old abandoned farms, cisterns, fields, and lots of oilfield. I think it used to be kind of an outlaw kind of place that is slowly going back to nature. If only we would let it.


There are lots of ghosts up on the mountain. You can almost see them at certain times late in the evening when almost everbody has gone home. There is an air of mystery about it.


Anyway Turkey Mountain is unique. A wilderness within sight of downtown. It is important to keep it that way. An outlet mall can go anywhere. If you think we need one of course. We’ve been doing fine without is my opinion. Here is a little more information on the matter.

And here is a Online Petition opposing the location of the mall. Check it out.

And here is some information about the George Kaiser Family Foundation regarding their property on Turkey Mountain. They own 139 acres and pledge not to develop it. Lots of people thought that the acquisition happendd this week and that the mall is prevented. Actually, if I understand correctly, they have owned the property for some time. I guess that I have a little take on their announcement. I see it as a head nod to Simon to go ahead and send the bulldozers in, we won’t oppose you. I guess I’m a little cynical maybe. The Foundation has been really good to Tulsa They are a great supporter of the Turkey Mountain but I detect a note of surrender in their announcement.  The foundation is putting together a mammoth park project on the River Parks called A Gathering Place for Tulsa. It will cost over $300 million and will be wonderful. Check out the Link.

And here is the City Council and Tulsa Mayor web sites. Drop’em a line. Let them know how you feel.

Other Resources

Trail Zombie’s Post concerning the environmental impact.

The Tulsa Voice article referenced in Trail Zombie’s Post

New Facebook Page – Forgotten Malls of Tulsa reminding us that all malls have a lifecycle and it doesn’t last very long.

Blog Post by Bob Doucette on zoning and land use