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Hiking the Chickasaw National Park, Oklahoma

Two women in creek next to grist mill
A former grist mill at Rock Creek in the original townsite of Sulphur, now part of Chicksaw National Park (Gateway to Oklahoma History).

Hiking the Chickasaw National Park, Sulphur, Oklahoma

Yes, I am well aware that technically, this is a "Natioanal Recreation Area." Yeah, yeah. It started off as Platt National Park and therefore, to me, it's still a national park. Sue me.

Entrance points:

There are many walking trails that begin in downtown Sulphur and lead to the areas that were once the original town site. One of those areas is the well that smells like rotten eggs, which is why Sulphur is called Sulphur.

Distance that I hiked:

I hiked to the Springs Trail to Buffalo Springs and Antelope Springs, which is a leisurely stroll of less than two miles. I also took the Travertine Creek Trail for three miles, and I biked part of the Rock Creek Trail.

Complete hike/bike:

There are many different trails around the park. The longest one is the Rock Creek Trail, which is also a hunting area. To see more of the trails, visit the park's description

Civilization factor:

It depends on the season. In the summer, the waters are quite full, but the trails aren't. In the spring and fall, the trails are busier. During the winter, the park is much quieter.

Does your cellphone work:

Yes; never lost connection.

Sulphur, a Chickasaw county seat in Murray County, became a medicinal spa town, where people could "take in the waters," at the turn of the 20th century. While the water did not smell all that good, it developed into Platt National Park, named after Senator Orville Platt from Connecticut who was "involved in Indian affairs and the work of the Dawes Commission." In the 1930s, it became ground-zero for public projects by the Civilian Conservation Corps, and then in the 1960s, creeks were dammed to create the Lake of the Arbuckles. The National Park recognized the importance of this place, as it serves to explain the transition from forest to prairie.

So, there is a LOT of history at the park, but there are a LOT of trails to explore, too. For a lovely time that doesn't break a sweat, I'd recommend the Springs Trail, where the Buffalo Springs and Antelope Springs, and Travertine Creek, are the stars of the show. Helpful signs explain the different tree species and the CCC structures, too. For those who don't like strenuous hikes, it's a great trail.

Then, I hiked the Travertine Creek Trail, which parallels the crystal clear, rocky, and elevation changing stream. Its swimming holes were really crowded, though. My bike ride was a portion of the Rock Creek Trail, with some hills but a good path. I liked the walk better than the ride, and that could be because I split my pants while cycling and still feel the embarrassment!

Sulphur is home to the Chickasaw Cultural Center that is accessible from the Veteran's Trail. I haven't walked that trail yet, but it's a goal of mine.

Waterfall beneath a foot path
Near Antelope Springs.

Pavillion with water well
The smelly, original Sulphur Well beneath a CCC pavillion.

Water surrounded by rock structure
The CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) went a little rock-happy when encasing Buffalo Spring.

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