Red Bud Valley Oxley Nature Trail
North 161st East Avenue
Besides some very basic improvements, we have left the trails rough and rugged. They are steep in places, rocky in others, and frequently muddy and slick after rain. Use extra caution as you walk through the area. We encourage you to stay on the trails. The soil on the top is very thin and excess traffic causes long-term damage. On the hillsides, erosion is a problem, especially where people short-cut between trail sections.
The Main Trail
Currently, the main trail system at Redbud Valley consists of one loop trail, approximately one mile in length. The trail is steep and rugged in spots, and is faint or braided in others. The trail can be very rough in a few areas. Use caution and be sure of your footing, especially on slopes.
Click to enlarge photo in a new window The trail begins at the parking lot (1) and goes west up the steep slope. From the top of the rock outcrop (2), the trail winds through a stunted woodland of Post Oak, Blackjack Oak and scattered Texas Hickory. Soon you will begin to notice scattered Prickly Pear Cactus in the clearings. There is Fragrant Sumac throughout this area, and a few small trees of Chittamwood, or Gum Bumelia.
The trail forks (3) at which point you may decide whether you want to choose the Prairie Fork or the Woodland Fork. Either trail will lead you to the same spot. The Woodland Fork winds through a forested area, while the Prairie Fork will take you through a section where the soil is so thin that few trees grow. (If this is your first visit, we recommend the Prairie Fork.) Here you will find much more cactus and many grasses and flowers typical of a dry prairie habitat. Look carefully for the small Mammalaria cactus found here, as well as for Yucca. Other interesting plants in this area are Smoke Tree and Deciduous Holly. This are is sometimes burned as a management tool.
Eventually the two forks rejoin at the top of The Ravine (4).This break in the cliff allows the trail to drop down to the base of the cliff face. The environment here is radically different from the uplands, being cooler and much more moist. Notice that several types of fern grow on the limestone rocks. In spring you may find Columbine growing here.
Turn right at the base of The Ravine (5). Not far is a good size cave, and after that, an active spring (6) emerges from the base of the cliff and feeds the ponds below. If the weather has been dry, the spring may produce barely a trickle, but after a good rain, the spring will run with surprising force. Look for Sugar maples which are common in this area. You will pass several more small caves before the trail begins to drop down the hillside to the bottom of the slope (7).
Just past the bottom of the hill the Bluff Trail begins, an alternate and rugged route back to near the parking lot, following the limestone ridge. Climbing up above the bluff and taking "shortcuts" down the hillside kills rare plants and causes erosion.
From the bottom of the hill, the main trail wanders through the flood-plain of Bird Creek, in a habitat much more typical of northeastern Oklahoma. Still, the hillside to the south has unusual plants, especially Dutchman's Breeches, which can proliferate in early spring.
The trail winds around large limestone blocks which have slipped to the bottom of the hill. One of these is now surrounded by trees and large grape vines. (This section can be very muddy in wet weather.) The trail continues around the hill and returns to the parking lot (8).