Hiking Wichita Mountains: Quartz Mountain Nature Park
Quartz Mountain, also known as Baldy Point, sits on the shore of Lake Altus, a short distance northwest of the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge. It's technically part of the Wichita Mountains range, though if you drive from one to the other you'll notice a lot of flat land in between. Quartz Mountain is beautiful in its own right, but if you're an avid climber, you're in for a real treat. Since the 1960s and 70s, free climbers have been ascending Quartz via an array of colorfully named routes, like "Hobbit," "Last of the Good Guys," and "Amazon Woman" [source: Wichita Mountains Climbers Coalition].
It's partly through the dedication of the climbing community that the Quartz Mountain Nature Park exists at all. The mountain was on private property for decades, but the landowner was friendly with the climbers and allowed them access. When the owner died, a coalition of climbers worked with his family to purchase the site, donate it to Oklahoma, and convert it into a Nature Park that would always be accessible to the public.
If you're not up for a free climb up a craggy cliff, you can still enjoy Lake Altus, along with hiking trails and quite a few more nearby attractions, like a golf course and a speedway.
Next we'll find out where to camp in the Wichita Mountains. And if you're not into roughing it, we'll check out some indoor lodging too.