When you're talking about hiking, it's hard to leave out the Wichita Mountains. Kelly Ogle took some friends and hit the trails while also checking out some of the other fun things you can do in the area.
The Wichita Mountain range north of Lawton is one of Oklahoma's unexpected gems. That's why Kelly wanted to take along one of our newest reporters, Barry Mangold, a native of Maryland. The Wichitas are great for hiking, rugged but not too severe, like the trail we hiked back in to one of the several lakes in the area, Lake Jed Johnson. Thirty minutes into a gentle climb you reach Jed Johnson Tower, a fire-watch station built by depression-era workmen with the Civilian Conservation Corps. (30 minutes unless you get distracted, which we highly recommend.)
For you heartier souls, might we recommend the Wichita's second tallest peak, just a couple of miles away? Mount Scott rises nearly 1,000 feet above the surrounding countryside. You can bike, drive or hike to the top of Mount Scott. It's a three-mile hike up the road.
In all, there's about nine trails to try out in the Wichita Mountains. And after you're done, you'll have worked up an appetite. Our next stop wasn't nearly as grand as Mount Scott, but darn near as famous. Don't live in this state without at least once chowing down on a Meers burger.
“It’s just the way things used to be,” said Joe Maranto, the owner of Meers Store and Restaurant. “That’s what people want.”
The 97% lean beef comes from the longhorns Maranto raises himself. And this burger is big. That was the idea of the previous owner.
“Because he was a lazy cook, cowboys would come in here and order two quarter-pounders and that slowed him down, so he made one big burger,” Maranto said.
Maranto has had to add onto this ramshackle collection of connected buildings seven different times to keep up with the crowds, but the lines are still long. Oh, and don't go on Tuesdays or Wednesdays. They're closed.
So the Old Plantation Restaurant, in nearby Medicine Park, is also a great option with a much more expansive menu if you're really hungry.
And in this 112-year-old resort community, there is a new attraction. Check out the Medicine Park Aquarium and Natural Sciences Center. As partners with Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, all kinds of critters -- both in the water and out -- will entertain and educate. And they are adding new exhibits every day.
Through the decades-old cobblestone town has attracted politicians, gangsters, actors, musicians, its Roaring-20s charm is still evident. Downtown Medicine Park also has offbeat shops, a music stage, and one of the state's great old swimming holes. We ended the day strolling through the old town and sitting in the shadow of Mount Scott enjoying some local ice cream.