A Breath of Fresh Air (Photo Essay)

Wandering around the top of Mount Scott can provide hikers with beautiful views of wildlife, vegetation, and small lakes.

Emily Loughridge, Editor-in-Chief

Do you ever feel stressed and stuck while being on campus? It can be easy to, especially when you live at the same place where you go to school and work. Lucky for all of us, there is an easy escape less than an hour away. The Wichita Mountain Wildlife Refuge is a 45-minute drive from campus. Once there you can explore the small town of Medicine Park, which has places to eat, shop, fish, and swim. The large town of Lawton is just a quick drive from the mountains, as well. Lawton offers a wider variety of places to eat and things to do. The main attraction for this area is the hiking and wildlife.

Over Spring break, I went to the Wichita Mountains with three other friends. We spent the entire day exploring the area and building memories. Before we left for the day, we all made sure to pack several bottles of water and quick snacks. If you plan on hiking while in the area, it is crucial to locate which trails you plan to hike. Sadly, a lot of the trails aren’t clearly marked so visitors need to be very careful. Another tip is to tell someone where you are going, which trails you plan to hike, and what time you think you will be back to ensure your safety.

The most well-known location in the refuge is Mount Scott. People drive to the top and enjoy the beautiful views. You can hike a little bit around this area, but most of the trails surround the mountain. From the top of Mount Scott, you can see Lawton, Medicine Park, and several bodies of water, including Lake Lawtonka. The view is breath-taking, and it can be very relaxing to find a big rock, soak up some sunlight, and enjoy the views.

After stopping at Mount Scott, our group traveled to Buffalo Trail, which is eight miles long and has an expected four-hour hike time. Our group did not hike the full trail, instead we hiked for about an hour, before moving onto our next stop. While hiking we got to talk while walking through trees. A few members of our group had competition to see who could jump from rock to rock the longest.

Another stop on our trip was the Holy City. Right outside of the city walls is a large statue of Jesus. Inside the city walls there are several old, stone structures including the temple court, the Lord’s Supper building, Herod’s Court, and Pilate’s judgement hall which were built in the 1930s. The first site for many is a Veterans Walkway, which is a memorial for the victims of the Oklahoma City bombing. The walkway leads to the World Chapel. The chapel, a replica of the Christ Church in Virginia, is a popular wedding destination that features multiple murals painted by Irene Malcom.

Our final venture was to Lake Lawtonka to watch the sunset behind Mount Scott. We hiked around the area around the lake and tried to skip rocks across the waves. The sun slowly set towards the horizon, and once it got to the edge of the mountain it disappeared quickly. After enjoying the view, our group drove back into Medicine Park to get ice cream from Cobblestone Creamery.

The drive back was filled with music trivia, other funny questions, and necessary coffee runs. While staying on campus is easy, I would highly recommend going one weekend to Mount Scott and the surrounding area. It can provide a much-needed escape from the daily stresses of college and real life. Just remember to be safe, bring water, and take your friends with you.


Emily Loughridge is a second-year Communication major at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma.