View Full Version : Biking the Oklahoma River Trail

07-21-2005, 11:29 PM
Some friends and I biked the Oklahoma River's north trail last Sunday. We all hadn't ridden in awhile, and it was the first time on the river trail, so we took it easy. But we had a good time, and I hope it's the beginning of a rewarding pastime.

We began at Regatta Park and biked to the trail's end point at Meridian. From end to end the trail is six miles long, although the entry from Regatta Park is about 3/4 mile ahead of the east end. It's a smooth asphalt trail with a multitude of tributary bridges. It's mostly flat with a few broad hills and a couple of steep declines underneath bridges.

As we all know, the river park is in its infancy, so it is light on amenities. There are bridge signs and distances painted on the ground for those heading east, but not for those going the opposite direction. The western end is formed by a turnabout at the foot of an embankment. There is a trail loop a couple of miles from that end, that provides users with a chance to circle around. Yet nothing but young trees fill the loop.

Later on, I hope to see lighting, benches, wastebaskets, water fountains, and signs for westward trail users. Hopefully, bridge sidewalks will be improved to allow better trail access to the other side. According to the city's website, those will be put in place when funds become available. Equipment rentals I believe are in the works as well.

Eventually, I hope some individuals/groups work with the city to bring public art and diversions to the trail. While brush and cut grass make for a pleasant ride, it doesn't give trail users landmarks to spot. Only the bridge signs, the view of downtown's skyline, and proximity to the Dell facility tell you where you are in the trail.

I had some ideas of what could line the trails. Some kind of game using public art would be a nice colorful diversion for both trail users and water taxi riders. Large visual objects (think of the kind of stuff you find in a City Bites shop) could give clues to some kind of puzzle that makes sense after seeing all the objects.

Another idea would be to show deference to the Native American Cultural Center and have story markers dot the trails. Biographies, trivia, tribe settlement depictions, etc would remind trail users of the original settlers of Oklahoma.

Or, we could blend the functional with the whimsical and have those basics (signs, wastebaskets, benches, fountains, etc) be made out of art. Someone once said that that the best public art is that which you don't recognize as being such. She meant that commonplace things don't have to be if they are creatively designed. It also means that displays showing facts like the type of fish stocked, current river depth and wind direction can contribute to a sense of ecosystem.

Anyway, the best visual during the rides was the bikers, walkers and a few fishermen. It's good to see that people know about this riverpark -- and are using it contently despite is bare beginnings.

07-21-2005, 11:42 PM
Thanks for the report and I like your ideas for public art along the way. I remember the Hefner trail system started slowly but now seems to be extremely popular.

Is there an easy way to cross the river on a bike (or foot) at any point along the way?

07-22-2005, 12:11 AM
Malibu, I don't know how it is for the other bridges, but the best crosspoint would probably be the Robinson Bridge. Pedestrains can cross this one (maybe the others as well,) but the ashphalt trail does not provide direct access to bridge sidewalks. To get to them requires going up some steep uphill climbs.

07-22-2005, 08:20 AM
So, once you bike the length of the river on one side, there is no easy way to cross the river and return on the opposite side?

07-22-2005, 08:39 AM
Very true. In fact, I have not been able to find any parking lots, except Bricktown, to access the north shore. The south shore has three or four.

07-22-2005, 10:58 AM
Sounds like a nice ride to me,although I am a mountain biker, I'd also like to try the Hefner Lake trail sometime. Hmm, maybe next time I come down I should drive and bring the bike, I want to do the trail at Arcadia Lake also, anyone know how that one is? is it any good. I know this does'nt really fit in here, but one of the nicest places to ride is Mackinaw Island in Northern Michigan, nice trails, horse and carriages and the best part, no cars are allowed, bikes and horses only.

07-22-2005, 12:19 PM
So, once you bike the length of the river on one side, there is no easy way to cross the river and return on the opposite side?

No not really. Mranderson's right, there are few parking lots to access the north trail. It's funny that the markers are eastward when the Regatta Park location is the best place to enter the north trail (at least for those not living close by). Well, as they say, Rome wasn't built in a day.

I will say, though, in regards to mariner62's description of the Mackinaw Island: one of the best things about the Oklahoma river trail is that there are no vehicular crossings. You can ride with abandon (watching out for joggers and rollerbladers, of course) without worrying about hitting a car.

07-22-2005, 12:29 PM
That river area has so much potential...

It will be fun to watch it develop over the next 10 years or so.