Tag Archives: RiverParks Authority

New Trails Coming to Turkey Mountain

Big News out today in Tulsa for those of us who love the Turkey Mountain Urban Wilderness Area. The RiverParks Authority has announced that it is beginning the first phase of the Turkey Mountain Master Plan. Construction on thirteen miles of trail will begin this Fall. The trails are being designed by Progressive Trail Design who designs and build trails all over the country.

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This is huge news for Tulsa. Six years ago a company announced plans to build an outlet mall on the mountain. It seemed like an unstoppable force but a small group of citizens (the Tulsa Urban Wilderness Coalition) organized opposition to the outlet mall and guess what, the mall decided to go somewhere else in town. And further, that somewhere else, the company scraped off a bunch of dirt and started construction and then quit (they say only temporarily) leaving kind of a big muddy mess. (Thank goodness they didn’t do that on Turkey Mountain is what I say.)

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Two years ago the RiverParks Authority got funding to develop a master plan. As part of the process input was provided by thousands of Tulsans on what they wanted Turkey Mountain to look like. What they came up with was wonderful. Check it out here. A great plan but an unfunded plan.

Wagon Wheel Lake

So now they have enough funding for the design and construction of thirteen miles of trail. Professionally designed trail rather than overgrown deer trails.

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Lots of races are run on Turkey Mountain every year.

The existing trails on Turkey, although we love them were not designed. They just kind of happened. We have trails that go straight up hillsides and those trails are eroded rocky boulder fields now. The trails are not sustainable and get very muddy after rains where the water puddles up.

Turkey Mountain cleanup June 2015
Several work days per year on Turkey Mountain

The new trails will be more accessible to a wider population segment. I’m pretty comfortable on Turkey Mountain now but it took me years to get that way. I know which trails are almost impossible to traverse. As new trails are built, many of the older trails are going to blocked off and retired to let the land rest. All this is exciting news.

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Want to learn more? Listen to the Official Turkey Mountain podcast. Ryan Howell of the RiverParks Authority talks about the problems with the existing trails and the promise of the new. He also talked about restoring the bulk of Turkey Mountain to an Oak Savanna via the use of prescribed burns and removal of non-native species. He also discusses the history of Turkey Mountain including tales of buried gold and Viking explorers.

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A new trail being built

Consider joining the Tulsa Urban Wilderness Coalition. It’s a nominal cost and you will find out about work days, which are a lot of fun. TUWC’s scope is all the urban wilderness spaces in Tulsa, not just Turkey Mountain. They have become a resource for other organizations in the Tulsa area. (Full disclosure, I am am member, and all opinions on this blog are my own.) Check out and like their facebook page.

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Sunset on the mountain

If you are on instagram follow the Turkey Mountain account. (more full disclosure, I post photos to that account once or twice a week.)

Follow the Turkey Mountain Facebook Account and their Public Trail User Forum also on facebook.

Monarch Way Station on Turkey Mountain built last year as part of Monarchs on the Mountain event last year. The event will be be September 17 to 19 this year. Check out their web page for the details.

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You can only legally camp one night a year on Turkey Mountain during an event called Base Camp. It is a fun camping and music festival. This year on October 2 and 3.

It is exciting to see the results of a small group of people who stood up to big corporations and City Hall and won. (Just to be clear, I was not one of those people, but I was cheering them on.)

Linking with Our World Tuesday

Our World – Turkey Mountain Work Day

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Getting directions and instructions

Early Saturday morning a couple dozen volunteers gathered at Turkey Mountain for a joint project between the RiverParks Authority, who administers the Mountain, the Tulsa Urban Wilderness Coalition, and the Herman and Kate Kaiser YMCA located at the far northwest reaches of Turkey Mountain.

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Off we went to the work site. We had to pack all the tools about a mile to the new trail. Kudos to the guys who pushed the wheel barrows.

The YMCA has shut down to totally renovate their facility and are opening up this summer. It’s going to be great and one of the things they wanted was more defined and easier to hike trails to connect their property with the rest of Turkey Mountain. The existing trails are badly eroded and unmarked and many of their day campers who go off hiking get lost.

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We broke up into three groups or so. Somebody had taken a gas powered blower and blew the leaves off the proposed trail route, earlier the route had been flagged. The people who made the route did a good job. There was very little confusion about what we were supposed to be doing.

So the Riverparks staff and a few of the officers from the Wilderness Coalition mapped out a new trail that should make everybody happy. Y daycampers, and the many hikers and mountain bikers that use the trail. It features some switchbacks which should reduce erosion problems.

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No trees were sacrificed for the new trail! Some saplings and brush got removed.

Everybody grabbed shovels, picks, saws, loppers and got to work and we got the new trail pretty much done in a few hours. People started using the new trail while we were in the middle of building it.

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A mystery. We found this whole with a dryer duct snaking out and a ladder going down. Apparently pretty deep. An old meth lab? Maybe, moonshiners used to be active on the mountain back in the day.

It’ll take some finishing touches but they started putting up my trail markers right away.

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Blocking off the old trail using the materials at hand.

And we spent some time closing off the old badly eroded trail with fallen branches. It needs to heal.

We celebrated our work with a few adult beverages in the parking lot afterward. Everybody was very proud of the work done. It was a great way to spend a Saturday morning.

So this is me working on the trail. I stole the photo from the Urban Wilderness Coalition’s facebook page. Hopefully I won’t go to jail.

And up pops a map on a facebook page showing the old and closed routes. I am stealing this map also. I am leading quite the life of crime lately. Anyway you can see the new route is longer, not near as steep, and with switchbacks. Hopefully erosion will be more easily controlled on the new route.

New Trail Route on Turkey Mountain

I am linking with Our World Tuesday