Charons Garden Mountains Trail

HARD 92 reviews

Charons Garden Mountains Trail is a 5.8 mile moderately 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 year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

DISTANCE
5.8 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
610 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

dogs on leash

backpacking

birding

hiking

nature trips

trail running

walking

forest

lake

river

views

waterfall

wild flowers

wildlife

rocky

scramble

off trail

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.

1 month ago

went there for a 2nd time has a blast didn't think we went far enough didn't cover the whole trail but still had some fun

hiking
1 month ago

Returned and did the trail again. Excellent trail, can backpack by permit

hiking
2 months ago

This is one of the best trails in Oklahoma. It's almost constantly up and down and very rocky so expect to spend a fair amount of time on this one. Like many of the trails in the area, it can be a bit tough to follow in spots especially in the creek bed and near Crab Eyes. My one word of advice is to wear long pants. My legs were pretty cut up from thorns as I made the mistake of wearing shorts.

2 months ago

Good trail that takes you to a valley of boulders that was cool in and of itself. My wife and I were unable to pick up the trail after that and turned back after a while. Poorly marked trail, but likely worth it if you know where you are going.

3 months ago

Beautiful hike! Amazing scenery that unfolds as you progress, especially when beginning from the south trailhead. Gorgeous babbling streams throughout much of the hike that require some scampering up and across rocks, so be sure to wear shoes with some traction. Can’t wait to venture this trail again!!

hiking
4 months ago

This is one of the more beautiful hikes in OK that I've been on. However, the signage is almost non-existent, and the signage that is there seems wrong to me: Post Oak Falls, contrary to signage, is straight ahead at the Fork, not a right turn.

Beyond that, the trail to keep on to the Wilderness Trail doesn't seem to exist from where I saw it; I turned around at the falls because of it.

hiking
7 months ago

hiking
8 months ago

Love the area always enjoy hiking in the refuge.

hiking
8 months ago

Loved it....

hiking
8 months ago

As good as it gets in this part of Oklahoma. Hiking north from the Post Oak Trailhead (southern trailhead), the trail was overgrown in places up until the boulder field as the northern portion is obviously more popular. Even after two days of rain the creek crossings were fine and the waterfall was great. Will definitely be returning in the future!

backpacking
9 months ago

Great hike, beautiful views

backpacking
9 months ago

loved it, saw some mountian boomers, swam in the falls, and saw some beautiful scenery.

hiking
10 months ago

It was out first official hike, and we both really enjoyed it. Great Views!! Too many fellow hikers for my taste but overall it was BEAUTIFUL.

rock climbing
11 months ago

Friday, January 06, 2017

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.

hiking
Tuesday, October 11, 2016

In honor of Christopher Columbus Day, we got lost :D

hiking
Sunday, September 18, 2016

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...

hiking
Saturday, September 17, 2016

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.

hiking
Wednesday, July 13, 2016

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.

hiking
Friday, May 13, 2016

Did most of this trail on Easter and it was virtually empty besides our group. Absolutely stunning views of the reserve! Definitely didn't expect to be going through a canyon in Oklahoma. The boulder field towards the end was tricky and took some fairly difficult navigating, but it was a blast! Next time, we'll make sure to finish it up and summit on the adjacent trail.

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