Tag Archives: Turkey Mountain

Our World – Scavenger Hunt

Not to toot my own horn, but I guess I will. I helped to plan and implement a scavenger hunt on Turkey Mountain this past weekend. It was originally supposed to be New Year’s but it got postponed because of weather.

The RiverParks Authority gave me thirty items to give away. Small stuff like stickers (people go nuts over stickers these days) and key chains. I conceived the idea of using repurposed cd jewelboxes and designed new covers and “liner notes” for containers for the giveaway items.

So late last Friday I loaded up my jewel boxes and headed to Turkey Mountain. My friend Laurie from the Tulsa Urban Wilderness Coalition helped me place them on different parts of the mountain. It turned out to be a good workout with about 5 miles of hiking involved.

We didn’t really hide them because we wanted people to find them. The RiverParks Authority also had people out and about placing bigger items like water bottles and tshirts on the mountain. They also had people adding new stuff during the day.

We hid one in the famous washing machine at a crossroads on Turkey Mountain. (It’s actually a drier but I get dirty looks when I bring up that fact. Ever notice that anybody who says “actually” gets dirty looks.?

I was busy but I always take time for photos.

Especially when the sun is setting.

Here’s a screen shot of the facebook invite for the event.

Channel Six here in Tulsa showed up and did a story on the event.

A good time was had by all. I was proud to be a part of it.

I’m linking with Our World Tuesday. Come join the party!!

More on Turkey Mountain’s New Trail

Sunday evening I attended a stakeholder meeting on Turkey Mountain with the Tulsa Urban Wilderness Coalition and others to get a tour of the new trail they are building and get our feedback. Previously I had paralleled the trail this time we actually got to walk on it.

It’s going to be a bi-directional multi-use trail for bikers, runners and walkers. It is nice and wide and after seeing it I think it will work well.

For bicyclists they have a “Choose your adventure” options where you can take jumps if you want to or bypass them.

A huge difference from the existing trails is the extensive work they are doing to cut down on water erosion. They are following the land contours and the trail is side sloped one to two degrees to encourage water running perpendicular to the trail than down it. They are also taking the rocks they find and putting them downhill from the trail to help contain the dirt.

They have some great banked turns.

Here is an action shot of me (on the right) stolen from a friend’s facebook post. Hopefully he won’t sue me.


We came to end of the construction. They only have about a half mile or less to finish this segment. This is the first mile out of 13 or 14 miles in phase one of five phases.

They hope to open this in the next few weeks. I think it will be epic. They asked each one of us what we liked and what our concerns are. Everybody loves the trail, the main concern is minimizing conflicts between bicyclists and walker/runners. This trail will be the fastest bicycling trail on the mountain when it is completed and will be popular with the jumps and steep banks. The Riverparks Authority is planning on a lot of mitigation measures such as making sure that the turns have clear sight lines and education measures so everybody understands who has the right of way (people on foot do) and encourage mutual courtesy.

So we are pretty excited about our new trails. There are other changes coming as well. They might be having the first prescribed burn. That will help a lot getting rid of non-native species and clearing out the understory.

I am linking with Our World Tuesday. Come join in!!

Skywatch Friday – New Trail Progressing on Turkey Mountain

A new trail is being built on Turkey Mountain. Designed and constructected by the firm Progressive Trail Design out of Bentonville, Arkansas, it is the first professionally designed trail on Turkey Mountain. The rest were built by the users and followed old game trails, jeep tracks, oilfield roads, and the builders’ whims. This new trail is designed to last and be low maintenance and sustainable. They finally got started a couple weeks ago and have been making good progress. I went out there recently to check it out.

It looks very nice and “flowy.” People, especially mountain bikers like the smooth back and forth and up and downs. It’s apparent that it will primarily be a mountainbike trail and I’m just going to have faith that it will work out for non bikers as well.

It’s not open yet they have blazed a trail but the surface is still unfinished. They don’t want anybody on it until they are done and the surface is suitable for sustained use. (I stayed off the trail except at designated crossing points where it crosses existing trail.)

A banked turn. Lots of work before this is finished.

I paralleled the new trail on existing trails until I heard the sound of the trackhoe they were using to move the rocks and other heavy work involved. I went a little further until I saw the crew through the trees and that is as close as I got.

So I am very excited about all this.

About as excited as this tree I found while scouting out the trail.

Any you know it’s getting to be Christmas song. I love this new song my Carrie Underwood, “The Stretchy Pants Song.” My wife, who is also an exercise instructor, has been using it in some of her classes and her students love it.

I am linking this to Skywatch Friday. Come join us!!

A Great Day for Turkey Mountain – Phase One of the Master Plan is Starting Soon!

Friday afternoon the Tulsa Riverparks Authority held a ground breaking on the lower parking lot at the Turkey Mountain Urban Wilderness. They announced that phase one of the Master Plan to protect and preserve Turkey Mountain was going to start on November 15. It is incredible to many of us to have this day. A few years ago Simon Properties announced a project to develop an Outlet Mall on a private tract of land on Turkey Mountain. A small group of people said No!! It took a while and several times it looked like all was lost but the people prevailed. How many times have you heard of ordinary people forcing a multibillion dollar conglomerate to stop a project on private land. That core group of people were what became the Tulsa Urban Wilderness Coalition.

After Simon moved on to another site (where the project languishes to this day), the River Parks Authority held a series of public meetings and asked the citizens what they wanted out of Turkey Mountain. There were thousands of comments but they kind of boiled down to, first: Leave Turkey Mountain Alone, and second, Make it Better. The result was the Master Plan providing a framework of the work needed on Turkey Mountain.

Master Plans are fun, a big wish list. But it was not funded. So although we were excited about it we knew that it could be a while before anything happened. Well the RiverParks Authority started reaching out and making public/private partnerships and got a few grants, and a few dollars allocated from the City, the County, and the State and now they have enough money to fund much of the plan and work is starting this month on a new gateway trail from the lower parking lot to the top of Turkey Mountain and beyond.

Photo from River Parks Authority facebook page

So Friday we all gathered at Turkey Mountain and after some blessedly short speeches from the various VIPs, the symbolic dirt was turned. It was great. A couple minutes later, members of the Coalition were invited to grab a shovel and turn some dirt.

Photo from TUWC facebook page

That’s s me at the far left. I was not part of the original group of people but I have been on the Advisory Board for a few years now and have a big sense of ownership of the organization.

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So we celebrated a little bit but this morning we were back at it with a cleanup on Turkey Mountain sponsored by the Coalition and Leave No Trace. About 30 to 40 of us gathered up bags of garbage, cleared out downed trees, removed non-native species, repaired some trail, and rebuilt other trails. If you want to join in the fun hit the link to learn more and maybe even join the Coalition.

In my next post I’ll be discussing Leave No Trace. They have been at the Mountain for a week looking at things and leading workshops for various stakeholders. They are an amazing organization and I can’t to talk about them and what they do a little bit.

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 – On the Trail and the Road

Sunday morning after dropping the kid off at work I headed to Turkey Mountain for a little hiking.

Virginia Creeper?

I’ve been reading the novel, The Overstory by Richard Powers and it is blowing me away with its talk of how trees in a forest are all interconnected and they exchange nutrients with one another and with other plants via a network of fungal hyphae, miles and miles of tubular fungus that exchange minerals with trees for sugar. I already read the book and then I started reading it again. It’s pretty amazing.

Hairy Ruellia?

The woods on Turkey Mountain are very new. It used to be small farms and ranches but oil was discovered and what trees that were there were cut down for fuel for the boilers that powered the pumps.

Headache!!! I’m afraid some poor mountain biker hit his noggin.

So the trees that are there now are pretty new and mostly skinny. There are a few older ones that are bigger and are more spread out. I find the whole life cycle of tree thing to be fascinating.

American Trumpet Vine maybe

I know that Sunday I pretty much had the place to myself. Most people on Turkey Mountain stick to the more established east side with its overlooks of the Arkansas River and well developed trails. The west side is a little wilder and the trails less established and mapped.

I went all the over the the YMCA and took a pic. Not much going on there.

Shining Sumac perhaps

Just 3 miles but hey I was refreshed.

In the afternoon I checked out Route 66 for some geocaching. I stopped one of my favorites. The Blue Whale of Catoosa.

Right next to it was this. Apparently it is supposed to be an Ark as part of a journey through the Bible attraction but it didn’t really take off.

I found this museum in Catoosa. It was closed but it has a great mural out back.

And this is an old bridge on Route 66 that has been relocated. So I am continuing my turning 66 on Route 66 thing that I have going on.

I hope your Sunday was as fun as mine!!

I am linking with Our World Tuesday

Oklahoma Shadows -Oil Wells and Red Brick Edition

Here is an abandoned oil well breaking out of the shadows on Turkey Mountain. The mountain was a pretty good sized oil field until the early 70’s when it played out. There are several wellheads that you can see along with miscellaneous cables, small pipelines, and equipment foundations. It’s considered to be part of the cultural heritage of the preserve.

Here is a shadow within a shadow on a trail on Turkey Mountain.

And here is a whole wall of shadows on a brick fence in Okmulgee. Oklahoma has a ton of red clay and from that there are red bricked building and structures everywhere!

I’m linking with up Magical Mystery Teacher’s Shadow Shot Sunday 2. Come join in!!

Skywatch Friday – Running Through the Woods

I went on a recently on Turkey Mountain. It was morning but it was hot but the trails were shady.

I was also looking for a geocache. I thought it was below the above ledge so I climbed down below and nope, there is another ledge further down and I needed to get below that. It was too hot and sticky so, as we say in the energy biz, I temporarily abandoned that project for a day when I feel better. Getting down ledges is easy, getting back up is sometimes harder. Further south there is a trail I could descent to and walk out. So I’ll finish this on another day.

It was still morning as I made my way back and the morning sun was making the leaves glow green. It kind of reminded me of a stained glass window except it was bright green. It has been wet this summer and the leaves and grass still have that fresh green look to them.

Went by Wagon Wheel Lake and it was full and overflowing. I have seen it dry as a bone by this time some years.

Sky to the south one afternoon.

I’m still flying my drone. I am kind of boring. I send it straight up and rotate it. I don’t want to fly it over anybody’s property but mine. Most of the time I go to 50 meters. Doesn’t seem very high but I can hardly see it at that height. You don’t get much better views higher than that and I can maintain control of the aircraft. I went up to 75 meters and suddenly the controller said it had lost contact and was going to try and land the drone automatically. That was kind of panicy but the drone came on down and reestablished contact so I kept it up in the air.

Sky to the northwest another day.

So I am not too adventurous it. It costs too much money. I know guys who fly their across rivers and subdivisions and all that. Not me I am not flying it anywhere I can’t walk to it, legally. Plus if it fell it could hurt somebody and I would feel terrible. It is tiny, only 249 grams in weight but something like that falling from 100 feet would give somebody a headache or worse.

I am amazed by the device. It is a technological marvel. It can fly for thirty minutes, it takes great photos, and stays rock solid when you stop it due to its built in GPS. If I can fly it, anybody can.

I’m linking with Skywatch Friday. Come join the party!

Our World – Tess 5K Trail Run on Turkey Mountain

Saturday I raced my second race since the pandemic started. It was the Tess 5K Trail Run. It was on Turkey Mountain and was a fund and awareness raiser for the Tristesse Grief Center a local Tulsa non-profit that provides grief services such as counseling. The event also included a 10K run.

I did the race with my race friend Paula. We basically walked it and trotted it when we found non-rocky relatively flat places which on Turkey Mountain are not many.

I told everybody that I finished first in my age group, and I did and I was also dead last of the 13 men who ran the race. I was there though and finished vertically.

Got this nice medal. Truth be told, I am not a fan of the medals. They don’t really fit into my wife’s decorating scheme for the house.

Here’s the route. We started at the south parking lot (bottom of page) and went straight up the mountain (hill really) and did a loop, and came back down. The course was marked enough to where we didn’t get lost. Apparently somebody on a bicycle messed up the markers for the 10K so it’s results were in chaos. I am not knocking cyclists. They way outnumber the trail runners when it comes to cleanup days at the local trails.

So a good time was had by all. We each got a beer to go with the medal so that was an unexpected bonus.

The event was a win/win/win.

Challenging well marked course, check!

Unflappable course timers, I got the wrong tag number but the timer guy figured it out quickly without a lot of drama, check!

Nice tee shirt, check!

Beer, check!

Friendly race director and well organized volunteers, check.

I had a good time, I will be back!!

Our World Tuesday