Rome wasn’t built in a day, but it turns out that the state capital of Oklahoma was. It came together as one of a series of “land runs” in which homesteaders would stake their claim to plots of free land. It’s the largest city in the state with a population of over 1.4 million, and is home to the longest biking trail in Oklahoma.
The Longest Biking Trail in Oklahoma: Oklahoma’s Grand Boulevard Historical Tour Route
The longest biking trail in Oklahoma is the Grand Boulevard Historical Tour Bike Route. This trail is a 35-mile road biking loop that begins at Stars and Stripes park at Lake Hefner and travels east in a clockwise loop around the city. It can also be traveled in a counterclockwise direction.
The Grand Boulevard was a road that looped all around Oklahoma city. Parts of the original route have been given to other uses. However, it turns out that you can still ride the route of the former road and that biking just may be the best method to experience the historical route.
History of the Longest Biking Trail in Oklahoma
On April 22, 1889, Oklahoma City was created over the course of one day. Over 10,000 people moved in to call the city home. The new city was complete with streets, shops and home sites. However, the city planners did not set aside land for parks and recreation. When considering how they would adjust for this oversight they looked to the successful example of Central Park in New York City but didn’t know where to put a park within Oklahoma City.
The city hired William Dunn to take a look at the city and make a proposal. The original 1910 Oklahoma City Parks Plan by WH Dunn can be downloaded here. Since Oklahoma City left no room at its center, Dunn proposed placing four parks around the perimeter of the city at each corner. Will Rogers park was to be at the Northwest corner, Lincoln Park at the Northeast, Trosper Park at the Southeast and Woodson Park at the Southwest. The idea of the Grand Boulevard was that it would connect all parks by a continuous route. He also proposed that diagonal trolley car lines would operate to take people from the central part of town to the parks, but this plan never came to be.
By 1910 the city had bought up much of the land around the proposed boulevard and planned to complete the project. However, World War I, The Spanish flu and the Great Depression were major events that halted the planned route. For 26 years the Grand Blvd trail plans were shelved. In 1936 oil was discovered in Oklahoma city under the land the city had bought, providing them the money to open Grand Boulevard. During the remaining years of the 1930’s and into the 40’s and 50’s it was common weekly entertainment for families to drive the loop. Since the original road no longer exists in its entirely, the best way to take in the historic route these days is by bicycle!
Elevation & Difficulty of the Trail
The longest biking trail in Oklahoma is relatively short when compared to the longest routes of other states like Ohio. It is a fairly easy route that can be tackled by beginners and seasoned cyclists alike. Just be aware that much of the route will be road biking. Use caution when sharing the road and be sure to prepare by reviewing the route so that you’ll know what to expect along the way. The route starts at an elevation of 1,223 feet and reaches a maximum of 1,312 feet during the course of its 35 miles. There is an elevation gain of 803 feet.
Navigating the Longest Biking Trail in Oklahoma
An online map of the route can be found here at the Oklahoma Bicycle Society’s website. The OBS is a non-profit club that promotes bicycling in the state of Oklahoma. Be sure to download a copy to a device for reference as you ride. It’s also a great idea to print one so that you have a physical copy. Here is an overview of the route ridden in a clockwise direction.
Stars and Stripes Park to May Avenue
- The first section of the historic route begins at Stars and Stripes Park at Lake Hefner where parking is available. You will ride to May Ave.
May Ave to 63rd through Nichols Hills
- Beware that this section contains one of the bumpiest streets in Oklahoma City.
63rd to Braniff Drive
- The ride will continue past 63rd street past a Whole Foods and N Western Ave.
- The route will then take you up a steep hill back to 63rd where it will cross over the highway.
- In about 3 blocks you will want to take a right on Braniff, which can be easy to miss.
Braniff Drive to Katy Hill
- Here you’ll make a nice descent downhill and pass through a beautiful section of trees.
- The I44 service road will take you right by the Cowboy Hall of Fame.
- Next you’ll come upon a bridge on NE Grand. The side of this bridge is the only surviving piece of the original boulevard.
- You will travel past the science museum and zoo. You’ll pass the zoo lake and then turn just past the lake. Here you’ll find a golf course complete with snack bar and restrooms, should you need a break at this point.
- Past 36th street you’ll want to be on the sidewalk as you pass the train museum right before Katy Trail.
Katy Trail to South Grand
- Katy trail is part of the Rails to Trails program which has converted former rail lines into bicycling routes. Missouri has the longest example of this type of trail in the country. The Katy Trail is a beautiful and peaceful off-road section of the route.
- Katy Trail will come out on 4th street where you’ll take a left at the light on MLK and go over a railroad bridge.
- You’ll then take a left at Reno Ave, a busy intersection that will require care and attention. After passing over the river on a bridge you’ll take a right onto S. Grand Blvd.
S. Grand to Will Rogers Trail
- You’ll now be riding the S. Grand trail for about 11 miles. This is a nice section of the route with multi-use trails the entire way, you can ride along the trail or the street, experienced riders often choose the street as its usually light traffic and easier to navigate some of the intersections.
- At May Ave, switch to the pedestrian path which will take you to the pedestrian overpass. The trail crosses 29th street and 15th without traffic lights, so be careful crossing.
- There are railroad tracks to cross at 15th street, and just before 15th you’ll need to get on the sidewalk to cross.
- To get to May Ave you’ll need to turn off the river trail onto Brookline, travel to 9th street and then over to May. The Will Rogers trail starts just across the river.
Will Rogers Trail – South Section
- You will be crossing Reno at May Ave and riding around the fairgrounds. There are parking lots at the fairgrounds. Most riders prefer to stay on the trail rather than the street on this section.
- The trail follows I44 on the East and crosses to the West at 16th street. Take care when crossing at 23rd street as it is a busy intersection. There’s a hill that slopes down into Will Rogers Park where there is parking and restrooms
Will Rogers Park to Stars and Stripes Park
- While riding on the Will Rogers trail you will cross 6 intersections with stop lights: 36th street, 39th street, 50th street, Portland, 63rd and NW Highway.
- There is a convenience store at Mile 34 at 63rd and Meridian. The end of the trail is at the NW Highway and Meridian intersection.
- The final mile is along the Lake Hefner Trail back to the starting point at Stars and Stripes park.
Terrain and Bicycle Type
The Grand Boulevard Historic Tour Trail is a road biking trail. Sections of the route are non-motorized, multi-use paths but much of the route will be traveled on roads shared with vehicles. A road bike is probably the best choice but other bicycle types would be appropriate as well.
Conditions of the Trail
Oklahoma is a state known to experience extremes of weather. Much of the state lies in an area known as Tornado Alley where contrasting air currents produce severe thunderstorms, dangerous winds, incredible hailstorms and devastating tornadoes. The state has one of the highest tornado rates in the world, with an average of 62 strikes each year. Oklahoma’s position between temperature zones means that weather patterns can vary wildly between short distances and change rapidly.
The summers in Oklahoma city are hot and muggy and the winters are very cold, snowy and windy. On average, it is cloudy year-round. The hottest month is July with an average high of 93 degrees and low of 73 degrees fahrenheit. The coldest month of the year is January when the temperature reaches an average low of 31 and high of 50 degrees. During the spring the precipitation reaches a peak in May, typically the wettest month, when severe thunderstorm activity is not uncommon. Be sure to check the current weather conditions when planning for your ride and prepare with proper clothing and gear.
Wildlife on the Longest Biking Trail in Oklahoma
The longest biking trail in Oklahoma is a route that traverses both city streets and parks. White-tail deer are a common sight and you might look up to see a red-tail hawk in flight. Squirrels, chipmunks and raccoons all call Oklahoma home, so be careful if you leave your snacks unattended white taking a break. Listen for the sound of songbirds like the rose-breasted grosbeak as you take in the sights and sounds along this historic route.
More from A-Z Animals
The Featured Image
FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
What is the longest biking trail in Oklahoma?
The longest biking trail in Oklahoma is the Grand Boulevard Historical Tour Bike Route. This trail is a 35-mile road biking loop that begins at Stars and Stripes park at Lake Hefner and travels east in a clockwise loop around the city.
What animals might one see on the bike trail?
The longest biking trail in Oklahoma is a route that traverses both city streets and parks. White-tail deer are a common sight and you might look up to see a red-tail hawk in flight. Squirrels, chipmunks and raccoons all call Oklahoma home, so be careful if you leave your snacks unattended white taking a break.
Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.