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Loop 10 – Black Kettle Loop

 To be able to boast of over 30,000 acres of mixed-grass prairie as well as sheltering over 100,000 wintering geese suggests an amazingly diverse loop!  The landscape of this loop includes mixed-grass prairies, wooded ravines, rolling red hills, shinnery oak mottes, creeks, wetlands and the Washita River.  Whether a wildlife-watcher, birder, hunter or fisherman, this loop offers recreational opportunities for all.  Within Black Kettle National Grassland there is a mixture of both short and tall grass species but it is dominated by the midgrass species known as Little Bluestem.  These grasses produce seeds that are consumed by rodents such as kangaroo rats, pocket-mice and deer mice.  These rodents, in turn, are eaten by bobcats, coyotes, and numerous birds of prey.  The grasses provide cover for nesting birds such as Northern Bobwhite, Eastern Meadowlark and Grasshopper Sparrow.  The southern region of this loop boasts creeks, wetlands, and reservoirs, all associated with the Washita River.  The Washita National Wildlife Refuge provides habitat for impressive numbers of wintering geese, Bald Eagles, Sandhill Cranes and over 250 other bird species. While traveling this loop, find out the significance of the name “Black Kettle”.

 

Washita National Wildlife Refuge (10-1); 580. 664.2205; www.fws.gov/southwest/refuges/oklahoma/washita;

Directions:  Located 5 miles west of  the town of Butler on Hwy 33 then 1 mile north and ½ mile west.

 

Washita Battlefield National Historic Site (10-4); 580.497.2742; www.nps.gov/waba; Directions:  At Intersection of Hwy 283 & Hwy 47 in the town of Cheyenne, travel ½ west of Hwy 47 to Hwy47A.

 

Black Kettle National Grassland; 580.497.2143; www.fs.usda.gov/goto/black_kettle; Directions: Same as National Historic Site.

Lodging: Cheyenne:  (2) motels; (2) RV Parks – 580.497.3318. www.rogermills.org. Camping – Black Kettle National Grasslands – www.fs.fed.us/r3/cibola.   Elk City: (19) motels; (1) B&B; (1) RV Park – www.visitelkcity.com/accommodations,

 800.280.0207. Sayre(2) motels; (1) B&B; (1) RV Hookups at Sayre City Park – www.sayrechamber.com (business directory), 580.928.3386. Guest Ranches:  Flying W Ranch – 580.225.0050.  Gantz Ranch – www.gantzranchhunts.com, 580.983.2725.

 

One-Day Outings:  Fill up your gas tank and pack a picnic lunch (grocery stores in Cheyenne, Elk City, and Sayre) or enjoy lunch at any of the local cafes and restaurants in.

Cheyenne, Elk City, and Sayre.

 

Black Kettle National Grasslands Breakfast in Cheyenne, then visit the Washita Battlefield National Historic Site (10-4).  Visit the beautiful visitor center and walk the 1 ½ mowed trail and experience the prairie as it looked over 100 years ago.  Spend some time at Croton Creek Wildlife Viewing Area (10-4A) and walk the 2 trail loops (total of ~ 1.6 miles).  Skipout Lake (10-5) is a good place for a restroom break and then walk the 1 ¾ mile trail around the Lake.  Drive through the town of Reydon to visit Metcalf Museum (10-6) and enjoy a picnic lunch at the visitors center (Open March 1 – Nov. 30, Tues. – Sat.).  Next stop, Spring Creek Lake (10-7) and then on to Black Kettle Lake (10-3) and enjoy a short trail that meanders through the prairie.

 

Washita River Spend a day at the Washita River and the reservoir created by the damming of this prairie river.  At the Washita National Wildlife Refuge (10-1) be sure to walk the 1/3 mile hard surface nature trail out to a boardwalk and observation deck. Also take advantage of a ½ mile hiking trail and observation tower at Owl Cove.  At the Refuge headquarters be sure to check out the observation deck and, of course, the prairie dog town.  At Foss Lake State Park (10-2), known for its excellent fishing and boating opportunities, there are numerous walking and hiking trails to view wildlife.  Don’t miss viewing the resident bison herd at the Park office.

 

Off the Beaten Trail:  For travelers with high clearance vehicles, view the extensive mixed-grass prairie, red shale hills and wooded ravines on the approx. 14 mile Black Kettle Grassland Scenic Route (10-8).

 

Birding Route #1:   It is recommend to take the Black Kettle National Grassland one-day outing route. 

 

Birding Route #2:  It is recommend to take the Washita River one-day outing route and add a stop at Clinton Lake (10-9) and then a stop at Lake Elk City (10-10) where you can take a short walk into wooded areas alongside the creek to look for birds.  A stop at Sayre City Park (10-11) will afford the birder a refreshing break and a chance to look over the fish ponds for wintering waterfowl or wading birds in summer.

 

Guest Ranches (Contact info for all guest ranches are listed under “lodging”.)

Flying W Guest Ranch (10-13) offers visitors the opportunity to experience a working cattle ranch with abundant wildlife and life the way it use to be – simple.  Ranch offers trail rides to an historic buffalo kill site.  Enjoy fishing, hunting, hiking, riding or stargazing at the Gantz Ranch (10-14).  From wildflowers and songbirds to raptors, deer, pronghorn and elk, the ranch has a view for every eye. 

 

 

 

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updated June 19, 2012 09:32 AM