Through the Oklahoma chapter of The Nature Conservancy’s fall field trips, Oklahomans will get an up-close view of the state’s most magnificent landscapes.
For more than three decades, the environmental nonprofit has worked to conserve and protect natural areas across the state. Its best-known natural feature is the nearly 40,000-acre Joseph H. Williams Tallgrass Prairie Preserve, which is the largest protected remnant of tallgrass prairie in the world. While the organization offers public access to the Osage County property, other preserves are only open to the public during events, like field trips. This fall, prairie managers will welcome hikers for guided treks at the J.T. Nickel Family Nature and Wildlife Preserve, Four Canyon Preserve and the tallgrass prairie.
“It’s a really great chance to get a sense of Oklahoma’s natural heritage,” said Mike Fuhr, the organization’s state director. “People just love to get out and see these unique and special places in Oklahoma. One of the reasons we’ve continued this — both in the spring and in the fall — is because we’ve had such positive feedback.”
On Oct. 14, the organization offers two hikes at the tallgrass prairie, including a hike to the historic cabin of Osage author John Joseph Mathews and another for viewing fall foliage. On Oct. 21, hikers trek the Blue Ridge Trail of Four Canyon Preserve near Arnett in western Oklahoma. The hike offers sweeping views of the Cinnamon and Horse Canyons as well as the Canadian River valley. The final trip is set for Dec. 9 at the J.T. Nickel Family Nature and Wildlife Preserve near Tahlequah.
“This particular field trip is a chance to see a pretty neat part of the preserve,” Fuhr said. “It’s a good one for geology buffs. They will hike to limestone bluffs, which has crinoids fossils embedded in stone. It is a really neat trek to get there, and you get to see something neat when you get to the location.”
Those interested in exploring the prairies through a fall field trip can do so by registering on the conservancy’s website. Once registered, participants will receive an email with directions and a map for meeting the manager and others for the hike.
“The most important thing is to wear some really good hiking shoes,” Fuhr said. “We’ve had some people show up in flip flops before, and these are some rugged places. Number two: bring water. You want to make sure to stay hydrated. Lastly, bring a camera. These are very scenic places. You never know what you may see, whether it is a bison in the tallgrass or a beautiful songbird.”
2017 Fall Field Trips
Oct. 14: Fall Foliage Hike
Joseph H. Williams Tallgrass Prairie Preserve | 8 a.m. – 10 a.m.
Hike to Historic Cabin of John Joseph Mathews | 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Oct. 21: Big Ridge Trail Hike
Four Canyon Preserve | 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Dec. 9: Hike to Crinoidal Limestone Bluff
J.T. Nickel Family Nature and Wildlife Preserve | 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.
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