I lived in Oklahoma for nearly two years, and while I was there, I trained for marathons, and ultras, and I did nearly all my trail running at Lake McMurtry. I’ve thought about for while jotting down some information about these trails for anyone that may be interested. I also reviewed Lake Carl Blackwell’s Trails a while back, which is only a couple miles from Lake McMurtry.
Some background on Lake McMurtry: The natural resource area is a man-made lake about 10 miles from Stillwater, OK. It has disc-golf, camping, running and biking trails, a swimming area, a shooting range, and fishing. For a while, the lake was managed by the city of Stillwater, apparently that was not working very well, and now the lake is managed in a partnership between the city and a non-profit board which has been named the Friends of Lake McMurtry (I think they’re in the process of changing names). There are full time staff that work at the lake, and seasonal and part-time staff as needed.
Getting to the Lake: there are two entrances to the lake, on the east side, you can take Lake McMurtry Road, and from the west side, you can take Airport Road (I would usually go down 51, turn north on Camp Redlands, and west on Airport and then you turn north into the west entrance). For either entrance, you’ll pass a entry station where you can pay your $6 day pass, or buy an annual pass for around $60. They will ticket you here if you don’t have a permit. There are different trails on each side — although technically, all the trails are connected, it’s approximately 50K of single track running.
Each of the trails in completely runnable, and it’s pretty difficult to get lost. You can run here year long – but in the spring and summer, do not forget your bug spray, there are ticks and chiggers all in these woods. And chigger bites take forever to heal. You’ll also see turtles, snakes, and armadillos, occasionally some deer.
The east side of the lake has the red and yellow trails, some lake access, camping, the disc golf course, and a nice little covered area in front of the lake.
Red Trail (Southeast): To get to the red trail, when you come into the entrance, turn left at the bathrooms over to the covered area (which has a water pump and grills). The trail head is adjacent to the gravel parking lot by the covered area.
This trail is almost exactly 7 miles long. I think the red trail is the least technical, and probably then the most frequented trail. Mountain bikers also like this trail because even though it’s one big loop, there are two intersections in the center that can make shorter loops (people that have lived in Stillwater for a while may reference where the cattle gates are – they no longer there, but they used to be at the crossovers). Like most of the lake trails, there are smalls ups and downs but no big climbs. The center of the red trail is where the lake hosts their adventure/mud runs – so you will see the obstacles. There are not any great views on the red trail but there is a connector to the green trail.
As a note, the red trail is cared for by the Red Dirt Peddlers, a local cycling group, and I think more volunteer hours are spent on this trail than any of the others. What does this mean? in the spring the grass is cut back more, trees are gotten to quickly, and redirects are done as needed.
Yellow Trail (Northeast): To get to the yellow trail, keep to the right at the bathrooms after you come in at the East entrance, there will be a trailhead with a few parking spaces on your right.
This trail is probably the most technical, and therefore the least run at the lake. This trail is also about 7 miles long, and is mostly an out and back, with two little mini-loops thrown in. The last time I was there, some local cyclists were looking at a mini expansion that included some bigger climbs. The yellow trail is more technical because of the climbing, and also because it seems to have a lot more rock surfaces. Although, you are rewarded with some views of the lake in at least two stretches.
The west side of the lake has trailheads for the Blue and Orange trails. It also has the bait shop, and the better campsites (I think). The bathrooms on this side tend to be locked (FYI), especially when the bait shop is not open. Both trail heads are accessed from nearly the same area, across the four way stop where the bait shop is.
Blue Trail (Southwest): The blue trail is directly across the road from the bait shop. I like the blue trail, you start with some easy rollers, and a short stint on the road, before you cut back into the woods. There is a tiny loop at the end, which also has the connector to the green trail, and then you can head back in. Blue tends to be the most overgrown in the growing season and in the summer. Therefore you’re more likely to fall victim to ticks and chiggers here – and on the Green trail too. The blue trail is about 6.5 miles
Orange Trail (Northwest): The orange trail is my favorite. The trail head is catty corner from the bait shop. The first section you run can take you two ways, the first cutting back and forth, running by an abandoned car, and the bringing you out to the gravel road that leads to the shooting range, the second way takes you over the ‘leap of doom’ before bringing you back to that same gravel road. You run down the gravel road rollers for about a half a mile, and then re-enter the single track to run a loop that has beautiful views of the lake, and challenging ups and downs. If you run out to the orange trail loop, and run that loop twice, and then head back, it’s a great 10 mile run.
Green Trail (Connector): All that’s left is to talk about the green trail – the connector between red and blue (so it should be purple). This trail opened in 2015 or 2016, and it goes up and over the man made dam, you get a great view of the lake, but it can also be windy up there. Also, if they don’t mow, the grass can be ridiculous, and quite a home for ticks and chiggers.
Odds and Ends:
There are quite a few races held at Lake McMurtry. These races of moved around production companies, but they are usually associated with TATUR. In the spring there are the Lake McMurtry Trail races, typically a 50K, 25K, and 12 or 10K held on the West side on the Blue and Yellow trails in Aprilish. I’ve run their 25K. And then in the fall is the Red Dirt Shuffle, typically on the Red Trail, you can read about my experiences here. They have half and quarter marathon.
There are a lot more bike races here: Midnight Madness, Chilibike, etc.
There is also a secret society of runners that have run all the trails. If you see any ‘McMurtry Track Club’ shirts around town, give those guys a little nod.
I’ve been down the Lake McMurtry Trails a few times when I had friends living in Stilly who attended University out there. I’ve no idea if it was jointly managed at that point, but they were definitely nice!
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Awesome! They are really nice trails! =)
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They really are ♡