Tag Archives: Urban Wilderness

Skywatch Friday – News from Turkey Mountain

I was invited to a press conference a week or so ago. It was by the Tulsa River Parks Authority, the folks who manage the Turkey Mountain Urban Wilderness Area, to announce that they received a large grant ($2.1 million) from Oklahoma’s Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust, (“TSET”) to build more trails on Turkey Mountain.

So Riverparks authority execs and TSET board members showed up along with some Tulsa County bigwigs as well as board members of the Tulsa Urban Wilderness Coalition. And of course the media was there with cameras and drones. So we had some short speeches and the ceremonial presentation of the oversize check. It was interesting and I’m all about more money for improvements such as trails for Turkey Mountain.

The yellow trails are the phase one trails. I’ve been on all of them!!

TSET is an interesting entity. It is funded as a result of a huge lawsuit that that Oklahoma and a bunch of other states filed against the tobacco companies back in the late 1990’s. There was a Master Settlement in 1998 where the four largest tobacco companies agreed to pay the states an annual fee. Oklahoma puts the money in a trust to fund various health related programs such as the trails at Turkey Mountain. Read the details here.

So after the presentations and the individual interviews RiverParks took everybody on a hike to look at the new staircase up the mountain.


It’s about 130 feet long with a 100 of vertical elevation. The tour only went up halfway. Then the all the VIP’s went back down the trail.

It was said during the hike that the 100 feet of elevation change represents 300 million years of time. This was all the bottom of the ocean at one time..

Me? I’m a retired guy, I came to the press conference with my hiking boots and water bottle. I went the rest of the way up and took a little hike.

Turned right at the top of the stairs and went a short way to an overlook over south Tulsa and the Arkansas River.


And then headed north for a short loop.


This Christmas tree is on the blue trail and yet has no blue ornaments! What’s up with that. I am going to remember to bring a sack and take all this down. Nothing ages faster than ornaments outdoors.

I am linking with Skywatch Friday

Our World – Traffic

I took a little bit different route to work the other day. I wanted to drive up Riverside Drive parallel to the Arkansas River for some reason.

January 2020

When I got to the river I saw Turkey Mountain covered up with mist so I pulled off the road and took this photo. I thought it would be neat to be up in the misted part but hey I had to go to work.

Want to see what the opposite view was. I turned 180 degrees and this is what I saw.

Rain Traffic-2-1-Edit

And that is why we call Turkey Mountain an Urban Wilderness. It’s a refuge in the midst of madness.

I am linking with Our World Tuesday

Our World – Turkey Mountain Cleanup


The Tulsa Urban Wilderness Coalition sponsored a Trail Cleanup Day on Turkey Mountain Saturday, early Saturday morning, like really early, like eight am, I got there about 8:40. I brought my loppers so I took off down the Red Trail to go do some lopping.

Abandoned Bicycle Jumps on Turkey Mountain

I turned off the Red Trail and headed down the Fro-Flow mountain bike trail.

More Abandoned Bicycle Jumps on Turkey Mountain

The Fro-Flow trail was all the rage just a few years ago. Somebody went and built this incredible collection of jumps and obstacles to ride their bikes on. It made for some great watching.

Here is a three year old youtube video of somebody doing the ride.

People still ride the trail. Four came by while I was lopping limbs to help clear the way. They just bypass the obstacles. It is a little more exciting than I would want to try.


I found me a big ole rock with all sorts of swirly patterns in it.


I also found this fall across the trail. So you can either hop over the thing, or take the steps, or just bypass the whole thing. You got options here. I am in the natural gas business. Everybody in the business, from producers to end markets want optionality.


Here is a relic of Turkey Mountain’s oilfield past. Turkey Mountain was a thriving oilfield at one time, it also had farms and small settlements and outlaws. The Tulsa area used to have lots of outlaws.


While I was lopping I was picking up stuff. Lots and lots of beer cans, water bottles, and a shoe, and some cheap hair dye. Don’t ask me cuz I don’t know.

Too big to lop. If there were some guys with me (or even gals) we could have probably moved this. By myelf, nope.

So I lopped limbs on about 2 miles of trails, picked up a lot of trash. There were about a half dozen other people, plus a Girl Scout Troop, a couple of policemen, and a mom and her son looking for volunteer hours. We got a lot done in just a few hours.

I am linking with Our World Tuesday

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. You can also read more info here to learn how to enhance the view of property with the help of experts.

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.)

Return to Turkey Mountain with the Tatur Tots and an Update on the Outlet Mall


The parking lot was cram full. Word is getting out on Turkey Mountain and its popularity is increasing.


The weather warmed up this week so Tuesday night I went to run after work with the Tatur Tots on Turkey Mountain. An informal group meets Tuesday evenings at 6:30 and Sunday mornings at 7:30 and breaks into groups based on speed. The motto is no one gets left behind.  Typically there is a fast group and a slow group.


So off we went on the slow group, up the blue trail to the upper parking lot and then down the Snake Trail.


See that ridge over there? That is where the Outlet Mall would go. They would extend the ridge this way and put in a 75 foot tall retaining wall right on the creek. They want to start construction this Fall and plan to be done in a year. So in two years just imagine this ginormous parking lot looming over Turkey Mountain like a mesa and all their loose trash blowing out in the wind. Simon has said that we are just going to have to trust them on the water runoff issues and they do not plan on doing anything special in regards to making sure trash doesn’t blow off the property. They are a reputable company, but I’m not in a trusting mood right now. What about you?



And further on we went, or rather they they went, as I was taking pictures.


I caught up with them and took their picture. I think they were discussing doing away with the nobody gets left behind rule as it pertains to slow fat guys who hold everybody up to take pictures.


Aha, nope, it is not Simon Group starting on the mall. It is the River Parks authority reopening the upper parking lot at Turkey Mountain. The lower lot is full most weekends now and on nice days after work.


It’ll be nice to have. Don’t worry, they are reworking an existing parking lot so very little of the mountain is affected.


Time to go home and have an adult malted beverage. It may be a little early for a wheat beer but I had to try this nice Oklahoma brewed Coop Ale Works Elevator Wheat.

Here is our route.

More News about Simon Group’s proposed Outlet Mall (Check Urban Wilderness Coalition for Updates)

A public forum was held this week to discuss all sides of the issue. Simon was invited but didn’t show up. I wanted to go but couldn’t.

Simon has asked for a continuance for their hearing before the Tulsa Metropolitan Area Planning Commission (“TMPAC”).  You just know they are out  behind the scenes, working the city councilors, the mayor, the chamber of commerce, doing the big juicy carrots and ugly stick thing. Whispering “Jobs”, “Development”, “Business” blah, blah, blah into the ears of the movers and shakers. It is very rare for Tulsan’s to try and fight any sort of development. I still don’t know if this movement to get Simon to back off is going to succeed or not is going to work. I don’t know anybody, including me, who is against an outlet mall somewhere in principle. The site for this mall just doesn’t work. Check the Urban Wilderness Coalition site to see how you can help.