I had to make an emergency trip down to Oklahoma because my mom got very sick and the docs were afraid she wouldn’t make it. Thankfully, she is going to be OK (not great, just OK) so it turned into a family reunion of sorts… If you can do that in an ICU room…
Anyway, the stress of the trip, seeing family, a very sick mom, etc. was taking it’s toll and I needed to get outside and relax a bit. Plus sitting 8 hours motionless in a car is hell on my back so any chance to increase the bloodflow is welcomed.
I have been aware of Lake Arcadia, in Edmond for as long as it has been around (yes, I was around before IT was around…) but I have never been there. I had heard rumors of a multi use trail system there that was supposed to be pretty cool, but had just never gotten to it. Since mom needed to rest and I didn’t just want to sit in my hotel room, I decided that, since it was only 3 miles from my hotel to the trailhead, now would be the perfect opportunity.
The great thing about this trail system is it’s location. It is literally 2 minutes off of Interstate 35. This makes it a great place to stop when you are passing through the area or, if you need a place to stop for the night, the exit has 3 good hotels (Hampton, Holiday Inn, etc.) which are minutes from downtown Edmond, which boasts good eats, a really nice city park, multiple Starbucks, etc. Plus it is a safe city. A good choice for travelers.
As for the trails themselves, I was curious as to the central Oklahoma definition of “multi use”. In some places that means wide gravel trail and in some places it means watch out for mountain bikes and horse poop. Since I had never even seen these trails, I was trusting the website for the lake and flying blind.
The trailhead is at the main ranger station for the park. There is other access but I figured this would be the best place for me to start since I was unfamiliar with the territory and mileage. As I drove up, I could see the trail which parallels the road at a couple of points and could immediately tell it was rough singletrack. I was going for a trail run.
Parking is easy and within feet of the trail. There is no fee to park and when I got there the parking lot had two cars in it with bike racks prominently protruding from the top. Note to self: keep your head up for mountain bikes. The temperature at the start was about 45 degrees, wind 10-20 and gusty with broken overcast skies. I decided to run in shorts, gloves, a cap and a long sleeve shirt. I was just about right, but would have appreciated a set of light tights as the sun went down. I started at 3:30pm and it was Saturday (just for traffic reference).
For those who went on our adventure down to Redman for the Triathlon Club National Championships I have two words that will either make you giggle or cringe. Red. Dirt. :0) And lots of it…
The trail starts out in the woods and it’s like running in small intestines. It winds back and forth on itself repeatedly. This was FUN! But don’t try to keep any speed up. Most of the turns were bowled out on one side from all the mountain bike traffic, which made it even more fun to lean real hard into a turn and run as fast as you could through it! The consistency of the trail varied a lot. Most of it was soft and sandy, but there were stretches that were rocky and ran up sandstone faces (NOT something you want to fall on). The elevation couldn’t have varied more than 50-75 feet, with the longest climb at less than a tenth of a mile. After lots of twisting and turning, the trail rolled for a while and then came out at a crossroad (bathroom) and then dove back into the woods. This second section was almost exactly like the first only with one open section where you could see the lake and one longer straightaway so you could actually run at a pace for a while. All the way through this trail there are sudden, small drops and ups, a few roots and rocks and some very tight singletrack ruts and turns. Nothing threatening, but definitely enough to keep you focused. Daydreaming = turned ankle for sure here. After a second crossing (bathroom) you go into a section that is more ups, downs and straightaways than twists and turns. You can pick up speed here and it dives into some deeper woods, which is pretty. You continue on until you come to the first real challenge, a creek crossing, which is where I had to turn around due to time constraints, at about 4.7 miles. This crossing looked to be a tough one. Lots of deep sand and what looked to be a really steep scramble to get up the other side of the creek bed on the trail. The total trail distance on the map is 6.5 miles one way. This is an out and back route. Since I turned at 4.7 miles, I was able to get in 9.4. Not bad for not knowing where I was going!
This is a fun place to run, hike or bike. It is all runable and ridable (except that creek crossing which looked to be quite challenging) for experts or families. Just enough elevation change to get your heart pumping, but nothing major at all. Rock Bridge is WAY steeper and more technically challenging. As for traffic, I saw a half dozen mountain bikers (this is DECEMBER, mind you…) and no other runners or walkers.
So if you are car weary and need to get out and stretch a bit and you just happen to be traveling through central Oklahoma, check out Lake Arcadia. It’s VERY pretty, lots of fun and gives you the feeling of being away from it all while being very close to most of it…!