December 14, 2013
I have hiked at Osage Hills State Park over two dozen times since 2009, exploring every trail and steadily mapping them with my iPhone’s MotionX GPS app. The state tourism department asked for a copy of my map for their website, which I happily provided, but the trails at Osage Hills slowly evolve and this weekend I found a welcome improvement.
Osage Trail and Bike Trails
I showed Wendy the main hiking trail loop in the park, also known as the Bugle Trail, earlier this year. But she had never been on the mountain bike/hiking trails in the eastern portion of the park. So we hiked 3.25 miles along the red bike trail loop, despite temperatures in the 40s and somewhat muddy trails after recent snow, ice, and rain. We journeyed counterclockwise and, after we forded the stream to join the main trail heading south, I was surprised to see fresh trail blazes adorning the trees.
This blog entry says the mountain bike trails at Osage Hills were built by the Bartlesville Pedaler’s club around 1999-2000, and the Adventure Bicycle Center has worked on them since then. All of the trails follow or parallel at least a portion of the Osage Trail, which was built back in 1999 by Robbie Ashe and fellow Bartlesville Troop 3 Boy Scouts, leading north from Camp McClintock into the state park, following portions of the path the Osage Indians followed from Bartlesville to Pawhuska.
The Osage Trail had round red metal discs affixed to trees, several of which are still up. The bike trails had wooden posts for guidance at junctions, but most of them have fallen over. A few color-coded plastic bike trail tree blazes are still up, but a newcomer to the trail system would still find it quite confusing without a map.
I’m much better at making maps than trail blazes, so I’m glad to see someone has painted gold scout emblem blazes along the Osage Trail and red and blue bike emblem blazes along portions of the bike trails. Maybe this was another Scout project? I noticed that they diverted the Osage Trail along one section, shifting it westward onto a parallel trail, so I updated my map to show both routes in yellow. And some months ago I noticed someone had constructed a new short bike trail loop off the red loop, so I added that to my map with dashed lines.
12/21/2013 UPDATE:Bikers have formed a new parallel path west of the cabin loop hiking trail’s eastern side, and I have added that to my map.
The northern junction where the blue and white trails diverge eastward from the red trail is still not blazed and I don’t think the new blazes clarify the blue and white trails, but they are a great addition to the park. I’m very grateful to have about 11 miles of good trails only a short drive west of town, to go along with the wonderful Pathfinder Parkway trail system here in town, which I’ve also enjoyed mapping. The city website links to my Google map of the Pathfinder system.
This weekend we found the Osage Trail a bit muddy, with many imprints from dogs, hikers, and a few deer. Ice filled the small pools beside the trail, including the grotto pool, and I had fun acting like a little boy, pulling some out and throwing it about.