Charons Garden Mountains Trail is a 6.9 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Indiahoma, Oklahoma that features a lake and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible from March until October.
Charon's Garden Wilderness is a beautiful part of the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge. It is a rugged landscape of rocky cliffs and narrow canyons, full of fascinating rock formations and (in the spring) blooming wild flowers. Despite its relatively low elevation (around 2000 ft above sea level) and rather small variation in altitude, it is as close to Alpine landscape as you are going to get in Oklahoma. The landscape is rugged and rocky but also lush and full of life. Protected from farming due to its inaccessibility and rocky ground, it supports a variety of flora and fauna, including free roaming bison, elk, whitetail deer... and good number of rattlesnakes, so watch out when scrambling over the rocks. The Charon's Garden Trail connects southern trailhead located between Treasure and Post Oak Lakes to the more frequented Sunset trailhead. Starting at the south end has several advantages: it allows you to connect Charon's Garden Trail to the Elk Mountain trail and this way you get nice summit at the end of the hike out. Also, when you hike back, you end up between the two beautiful likes, framed by the rocky hills behind them, and you can end up your hike by chilling on a cliff above the Treasure Lake, drinking in the views. Start at the southern trailhead and start hiking north, following signs for the "Wilderness Path". Less than a mile into the hike, there is a short side hike to a small waterfall (Post Oak Waterfall). It is well worth the detour. Continue north, following the trail and occasional signs. You will follow the creek closely. There are several established trails, but some may dead end depending on the water level in the creek. Some backtracking may be required. When you get to the boulder field, the trail will follow the western slope of the canyon, helping you avoid the boulders. Remember the place where this trail descends back to the valley behind the boulder field. If you want to avoid scrambling over the boulders on the way back (fun but can be challenging if you pick the wrong path over the boulders), you will need to connect back on this trail on the way back. It is not obvious how to get back on this side trail. The rest of the hike to the Sunset Trailhead is pretty easy to follow and not technical at all. You will hike past the beautiful Sunset Lake and the surrounding picnic areas at the Sunset Trailhead and connect to the trail to the Elk Mountain. The trail is pretty easy to follow and take you to the top of the Elk Mountain, from where there are great views of the surrounding plains (and the roaming buffalo if you are lucky). Hike back, following the same trail in reverse.
Our group hiked this trail on 12/26/16
Loved the scenery and the Rock formations, somewhat difficult.. but hey we had an age group of 84-26.. a great day hike.
In honor of Christopher Columbus Day, we got lost :D
So, I started on the south side entrance. It is extremely easy to find and easy to follow the trails. But if you want a more challenging and adventurous trip. Get to where the the lane splits and you can either go to the trail or the waterfall and go to the trail. Shortly after the little water basin with the little overflow the trail crosses a creek. After that stay to the right and start climbing. Anything you can do to stay away from the beaten trail. Lots of challenging climbs and descents. Makes you think and plan a route. And if u ever get lost make sure u have your trail app on and it will give you the general idea of where u are. I spent a good 3 hours just walking the rock walls and exploring the rock rooms. Than I took a detour on my way back to the start and hit the waterfall. It's small but still really cool to see. I won't say that I swam in the hole at the base of the waterfall cuz that would be wrong...
Great hike bouldering was challenging but fun. Make sure to take plenty of water or a filter to drink out of the steam. Side hike to post oak water fall is well worth it.
Love this trail. You can just imagine pterodactyls perched on the high boulders and cliffs. Bring water, and maybe even gloves if you want to scramble around on the rocks in the canyon.