My son turned 16 last September. To celebrate he and I took a back packing trip. We went to Wichita Wildlife Refuge near Lawton, Oklahoma. It was a great trip that I think we will always remember.
To do this you have to get a back country permit to camp. You contact the ranger station and the extremely nice ranger will send you the info. You then send it back and he emails your permits to you. They only allot so many a day so do not wait, especially if you have a certain day you want to go.
We parked in the gated parking at the Sunset picnic area, first thing and took off hiking. You can park inside the gate if you want your vehicle locked up at night or outside if not. In this area there are small hikes for the casual hiker and little ones in this area. They have a pretty bridge, water falls, and fairly clear trails.
As you hike out to the back country area you have to keep an eye our for signs. They are not easily seen. I recommend downloading the satellite images on your maps app before even entering the park. This will help to navigate the provided map (that comes with your permit) to the actual terrain.
There are several places you have to cross the water. Most of them you can rock hop if there hasn’t been a lot of rain recently. My son and I just wore our waterproof hiking boots and tried to stay out of the deeper water. (Of course one of us fell in after saying “I won’t fall” and it wasn’t me. )
Finding somewhere you can set up your tent in the designated area can be a bit of a challenge. The area is very rocky and in some areas muddy. I highly recommend bringing a tent with a small foot print. We found a spot for our tent that had a pretty good wind block (it is super windy up there) and mostly dry ground. On both sides of our camping area we had a very short walk to amazing views.
There are trails of various lengths in this area. However, he and I prefer to just pick a top and rock hop up to it. (I would say rock climb but we aren’t tying off or going that extreme.) We spent hours just climbing around seeing how high we could get till we got tired and decided to call it a night.
We cooked our hiker meals and climbed up to the peak to watch the sun go down. If you have not eaten the hiker meals, most of them are actually pretty appetizing. (I prefer the ones where you heat water and hydrate everything in the package instead of using pans.) His meal was chicken and mashed potatoes. I was extremely skeptical of it. His chicken was dang good though. It was like a very moist baked chicken breast.
That night we curled up in our bags and laughed and joked like 2 little kids. If you have teenagers you can really appreciate how special this was. It was a great time that I will always feel blessed to have with the little turd.
The next morning was extremely gloomy. We decided to call it early and head over to have some Mear’s burgers. If you are in the area this is a MUST HAVE. I have waited in line for over an hour before for one and I don’t ever wait in lines.
Their burgers are fresh beef that they raise themselves right there in Mears. Everything they have is pretty much amazing. (I personally recommend the seismic burger.) The best part is the desert. Make sure you save room. They have homemade cobbler they bring out in a huge bowl with a heaping scoop of homemade vanilla ice cream on top. He and I couldn’t even able to finish one bowl that day.
If you haven’t ever been to Wichita Wildlife Refuge you should go. There are so many things to do here. There are tons of hiking trails of all lengths and severity. It is also a great place to view the wildlife. Many bikers enjoy the ride through here. Then there is Mount Scott. At one point in time Mount Scott was the tallest mountain in North America. It is now barely big enough to be a mountain but you can drive to the top and see for miles and miles in every direction. Next time you are in the area, check out the refuge, it is well worth your time.