Charons Garden Mountains Trail

HARD 123 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

cave

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.

hiking
4 months ago

The trail was very well kept even if it was early in the season. Bit cold and windy when I went but it made the boulder hopping a lot more fun that way. Gorgeous views!

5 months ago

Started at Sunset TH. Nice trail, especially for the hike down the Valley of the Boulders (where you'll also find the 'Apple & Pear'). Before the Valley trail is very obvious. Arriving at the boulders search for the trail at the right hillside (don't start to scramble down the boulders). After the Valley the trail sometimes gets less well defined in certain spots. Follow main trail till parking lot at southern end of trail (various spur trails here). Crab Eyes was part of the trail, I made it just below the eye catching rock.

5 months ago

This is one of my favorite trails- I love the boulder valley and the views when you get to the lakes. Definitely lacks a little in signage in several places. I always orient to the Apple and Pear rock formation just in case!

hiking
6 months ago

Beautiful hike, but signage was awful and nonexistent in some spots. We started from the southern trailhead, and the trail disappears almost immediately over the rocks. Find the easiest way down and you should be able to figure out where the trail picks up from there. The trail forks not long after that with no signage to indicate which way is which (there was a wooden post that may have been a sign at one point) - after some backtracking and head-scratching, we figured out the left fork is the main trail and the right joins back up to the main trail at some point, but is much more strenuous and hard to follow. At this point we came across a dead bison right alongside the trail that smelled like it had been there for a couple days at least. Not long after the main trail comes to another fork with no signs. Not sure where the left fork goes, but we went right and that ended up being the correct way. Very soon after that is another intersection that confused us for a long time. The rightmost trail goes to Post Oak Falls and the main trail continues along the creek, with another third trail branching off between the two that wasn't marked and we didn't explore but seemed to go up the ridge above the creek. The main trail seems to dead-end at a small trickling waterfall that may be confused as Post Oak Falls (we did at first), but you actually have to climb over the waterfall to continue the trail- I can see where this might confuse and turn away some hikers. The trail is a little hard to follow here but just continue along the creek until the trail becomes easier to see. There was another sign in this area that was broken and swinging around on one pole, so we had no idea which way it was supposed to be facing- you should be able to see Crab Eyes from here, just head in that direction into the boulder field. This was the funnest part of the hike, with a lot of small caves to explore. You have to scramble for a bit to continue along the trail, and try to remember where you exited as it's not clear on the way back. The trail after this was easy and well-marked all the way to the Sunset Trailhead.

hiking
6 months ago

Great trail and the boulder climbs were awesome. I recommend gloves if you're going to enjoy the boulders.

hiking
7 months ago

We got lost while on the top so we ended up coming down this trail on our way back and it was fantastic. Definitely would recommend this to anyone who wants a good workout.

hiking
7 months ago

Great hike, wasn’t hard to follow until we got to the rocks but if you keep going the trail is easy to pick up again, highly recommend this hike

hiking
7 months ago

Wear pants. Prickly brush. Awesome trail. Light traffic. Off beaten path. Give yourself 3 hours to complete.

9 months 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
9 months ago

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

hiking
10 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.

10 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.

11 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
Monday, September 18, 2017

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
Tuesday, May 30, 2017

hiking
Monday, May 08, 2017

Love the area always enjoy hiking in the refuge.

hiking
Saturday, April 29, 2017

Loved it....

hiking
Sunday, April 23, 2017

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
Sunday, April 16, 2017

Great hike, beautiful views

backpacking
Monday, April 10, 2017

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

hiking
Wednesday, February 22, 2017

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
Friday, February 10, 2017

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.

Monday, April 25, 2016

We really enjoyed this one. Lots of nice scenery! Beautiful waterfall! Boulders to climb around and over. We will go back

hiking
Monday, March 28, 2016

Strenuous? Yes. Rigorous? Yes again. Fun? Yes again. Someone please tell me what animal is leaving large piles of dung deep into the wilderness trail. There's no way a steer is getting down there. Can steer fly? Would definitely recommend to hiking enthusiasts, and anyone who wants to have a common garter snake slither over their boots.

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