Bicycling Bliss in Oklahoma
Editor's Note: In honor of those many individuals in Oklahoma suffering in the wake of last month's destructive tornadoes, we offer this, our first-ever Bike Overnight in the Sooner State.
BY DANNA KORAK, WITH JODY WATSON
Our bike overnight is a quick, full-speed ahead ride to the clear-blue waters at Lake Murray State Park in Ardmore, Oklahoma. The best description I can provide for this destination is “paradise."
When people think of Oklahoma, images of the dust bowl era still linger, but today, this is far from the truth. Oklahoma has a greater number of man-made lakes than any other state, with 2,000 more miles of shoreline than the Atlantic and Gulf coasts of the U.S. combined. This provides some awesome possibilities for bike overnights in our home state.
Our favorite overnight begins in Davis, at the Two Cycle Coffee House Bicycle Club, located inside the Astoria Town Club. It ends at the Mackey Doo, our 50-foot houseboat docked at breakwater #10 Lake Murray Marina.
Jody, biking and boating.
Leaving Davis we head south on OK-77S to Turner Falls in the famous Arbuckle Mountains. The Arbuckles are an ancient mountain range in south-central Oklahoma that dates back some 1.4 billion years. The granite rocks of the Arbuckles were overlain by sediments during the Paleozoic Era. The range reaches a height of 1,412 feet above sea level. Springs discharging from the Arbuckle-Simpson aquifer into Honey Creek are the source of water for majestic Turner Falls, which cascades down 77 feet to a natural swimming pool. Turner Falls is the largest waterfall in Oklahoma.
From Turner Falls, it is downhill through the little town of Springer, population 707, and then onto Ardmore, a community born with the establishment of the Santa Fe Railroad in 1887 (when Oklahoma was still Indian Territory). The Heartland Flyer, which connects Oklahoma City and Fort Worth, Texas, is a popular passenger train that makes daily stops along the way in Norman, Purcell, Pauls Valley, Ardmore, and Gainesville.
Once in Ardmore, we make our way to Main Street Coffee, a small independent coffee boutique located in the heart of downtown. Pam Plesher, the owner and barista, always has fresh baked goods to serve alongside great coffee.
Lake Murray is located just a few miles south of Ardmore, within Lake Murray State Park. Oklahoma's oldest and largest state park, it contains more than 12,500 acres of relative wilderness. Back in 1933, the Works Progress Administration (WPA) and the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) constructed the park infrastructure and a castle-looking building called Tucker Tower. This must-see tower extends 65 feet into the air, providing stunning bird’s-eye views of the lake below.
Lake Murray is spring fed and one of the clearest lakes in Oklahoma. It's 5,700 acres in size, with 67 miles of shoreline. The lake was created by damming Anadarche and Fourche Maline creeks. Hiking, biking, and boating throughout the park offer breathtaking scenery and spectacular nature viewing the year around.
Danna hitting the lake in her kayak.
When you can end your day’s cycling adventure on the lake with a front-row view of Tucker Tower, you know you have found your "Bicycling Bliss."
Check out that awesome magazine Jody is reading!
Favorite local bike shop: Buchanan Bicycles in Norman.