Mon 18 Jan 2010
NEW… We have created a map set and trail guide for the McGee Creek Natural Scenic Recreation Area that is now available in our Store
The McGee Creek Natural Scenic Recreation Area (NSRA) in southeastern Oklahoma is a very convenient place for us to hike, since it is not far from where we live. The NSRA is located near Atoka and Antlers in Oklahoma, and it offers backpacking, hiking, and equestrian camping opportunities with many miles of trails.
I am working on developing a trail guide for the area, since little information is available. The brief trail map offered at the trail head is generally accurate as far as the trail location, but many of the distances are incorrect. I use a GPS data logger as I hike to correctly measure position and distance along each trail.
When doing a short hike with our kids back in December, the map at the permit station indicated that two new trails had been opened. We were anxious to try them out, and this holiday gave us that chance.
For this hike, it was just Jana and I with a light day pack. Temperatures was 45 to 60 degrees, and it was partly cloudy, which provided very good hiking conditions. From the trail head, we hiked north and then took the South Rim trail.
Before we reached Box Spring camp (near the junction of South Rim and Bog Spring trails), a new trail left toward the east. I will call it the Bog Spring trail, although no name is listed at the permit station. This trail provides much easier access to the east side of the McGee Creek NSRA, which had been a long hike north and around to a couple of camp areas on the southeast corner in the NSRA. The Bog Spring trail was in good condition, and allowed us to hike side by side for much of the trail. This new trail connects to roughly the middle point of the Hog Camp trail, near the equestrian camp E2.
We turned north onto the Hog Camp trail and followed it up until it came to a junction with the Hunters Cabin trail and short trail to the east which went to the east boundary. The boundary trail now is also open around the northeast corner of the NSRA boundary. We did not take this boundary trail, but it looks to be in decent shape and well blazed.
From the junction, we followed the Hunters Cabin trail toward the northwest. You will notice on our map a very small spur trail we took near the middle of the Hunters Cabin trail. This used to go to an old hunting cabin and outhouse. However, the cabin and outhouse have been demolished and removed. The area is now cleared, with two picnic tables and charcoal grills. I wonder if there are plans to put another equestrian camp here, but no information was available. The Hunters Cabin trail was in good shape, mostly double track, and nice hiking.
We continued on the Hunters Cabin trail until we came to the junction with the Coon’s Way Trail. This trail leads to the northern boundary of the NSRA, and it also connects with another trail called Wolf Creek as indicated on the state of Oklahoma map. However, as we hiked the Coon’s Way trail, there were no indications of the Wolf Creek trail, so it apparently is no longer marked or used. After reaching the northern boundary, we returned south on Coon’s Way, back to the Hunters Cabin trail and continued west on it.
Hunters Cabin connects to the northern end of the South Rim trail, and there are good backpacking camping areas there as well (B5 on the state map). We took the South Rim trail south to return us back to the parking area. The South Rim trail is also in good shape, with easy double track hiking through pine trees. The trees at the edge of the Bugaboo Canyon were too tall to see much from the overlook, but it was still very enjoyable as we made good time along the trail.
There had been some rain the previous week, so most of the creeks and streams were flowing, which is somewhat unusual for this area. Water sources are often limited to the lake on the west side of the NSRA, the Box Spring near Box Spring Camp, or the permit station at the trail head.
Our overall hike was 12 miles. We saw a few horses near the trail head, but once on the trail, we did not see anyone at all. Another great feature of the NSRA is the wooded environment. The tree cover helps to keep the hot sun off of you when hiking in the warmer months. The NSRA also does not have large elevation changes, so hiking with your family or kids would be an option as well.
Click on either graphic below to see a larger overview of our route on either a topographical or satellite map.