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Outdoor sports in spring: Big things coming to Tulsa's Turkey Mountain Urban Wilderness

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Spring is going to bring new life to the woodlands at Turkey Mountain, but that’s not the only thing that will emerge as warmer months arrive.

The Turkey Mountain Urban Wilderness trail system is undergoing an upgrade, and some of the new trails are already open.

The River Parks Authority, working with Progressive Trail Designs to implement the Turkey Mountain Master Plan, has already opened 2 miles of new trails.

That stretch of singletrack makes for excellent hiking and running, but also provides something long sought at the park: a welcoming stretch of trail for all levels of mountain bikers.

Turkey Mountain is a mountain biking favorite, but most of its trails aren’t exactly beginner-friendly. Many of the challenging trails will remain, but new stretches of trail will open the park to beginners while providing fun features — jumps, bumps and switchbacks — that will give riders a whole new experience at Turkey Mountain.

More work is underway. By June, a total of 6 miles of new trails will be open and another 6 on top of that by the end of July.

There will be periodic trail closures as additional work is done (a major facelift of the trails leading from the lower parking lot to the top is expected to begin in July), but plenty of other routes will remain open to explore.

What the new trails won’t change is the basic nature of Turkey Mountain. Its trails wind through blackjack oak, cedar and a colorful array of undergrowth. Deer, armadillos, various reptiles and more can be seen on any given day on routes that pass through meadows, navigate around ponds and dive into woodlands. And you can still see some of Turkey Mountain’s more industrial past, as the remains of 1920s oil boom well sites dot the park.

Turkey Mountain

Molly Bixler and Ranger are reflected in a pond as they hike on a trail at Turkey Mountain.

While you’re awaiting the upgrades at Turkey Mountain, there are a number of other places and events to watch this spring. A few:

If you’re looking to find other places for mountain biking, check out the Claremore Lake bike trails. Closer to home, recent renovations at Lubell Park have turned it into the newest hotspot to ride. If mountain biking is not your thing, you can hike and run at both places.

Illinois River fly-fishing

Paddle sports are growing more popular, and there are plenty of places nearby to give it a try.

Interested in getting on the water? Paddle sports are growing more popular, and there are plenty of places nearby to give it a try. Some favorite spots for kayakers: Greenleaf State Park near Braggs, or a number of spots on the Illinois River near Tahlequah: Peyton’s Place, Eagle Bluff, Diamondhead and Arrowhead resorts.

Tulsa IRONMAN

Triathletes are seen swimming in Keystone Lake while competing in the IRONMAN Tulsa North American Championship in 2021. The event returns in May.

Races more of your thing? Ironman Tulsa was a big hit last year, and it returns May 22. Watch athletes swim, ride and run a marathon on courses that wind their way through Keystone Lake, traverse three counties and finally finish in downtown Tulsa. Think you have what it takes to become an Ironman? Check the registration site and sign up.

One of the city’s biggest sporting events returns June 10-12 when the Saint Francis Tulsa Tough cycling races come to town. See some of the sport’s elites ride through challenging tracks downtown, or join Tulsa’s biggest block party on the last day of the event at the Riverside Criterion, also known as Cry Baby Hill. Come to watch, sign up to compete, or enjoy the more leisurely Townie Ride that weekend.

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