February 9, 2013
The Keystone Ancient Forest is only accessible on the second Saturday of each month. So an overcast winter day with temperatures in the 40s found me driving Betty and John Henderson south and west 60 miles to Keystone Reservoir to the west of Sand Springs. We trekked three miles today through the crosstimbers north of the dam on the eastern shore of the lake.
Docents warming coffee over a fire by the trailhead greeted us and offered a trail guide, but we declined. First Betty and John, and then I, posed by a large metal cutout of the poem Lost by David Wagoner. A nearby sign showed the forest’s location in the crosstimbers and tallgrass prairie ecoregion.
We hiked in the same pattern we had last summer when we were about 10,000 feet higher in elevation at Lost Lake: John blazed the trail, I followed, and Betty often lagged far behind, a biology teacher fascinated by her subject. We soon forked off the paved Childers Trail onto the gravel and dirt Frank Trail. It had one switchback up the hillside and then crossed a clearing before plunging back into the crosstimbers.
John and Betty posed atop some trailside stump seats. John, who hunts deer, was pointing out deer tracks and trail scat while Betty spotted the remains of an old deer stand. We reached the end of the trail with its overlook of the lake. A sign told about Washington Irving’s trek through the area in 1832. The bridge of the Sand Springs Expressway was visible to the left of the panoramic lake view.
On the way back I posed atop another stump seat and we took a short side loop for another overlook of the lake, where first the Hendersons and then I posed as a light rain began to fall. That kept us from completing the rest of the short paved Childers trail, opting to head straight back to the dry car. It was a short but enjoyable hike, and I plan to return later this year to see it when the oaks are leafed out.