Stinchcomb Wildlife Refuge – Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

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Stinchcomb Wildlife Refuge
Oklahoma City’s Most Underused Natural Resource

 North Canadian River
Water Level Gage
@ 39th Street
Stinchcomb Wildlife Refuge

Article reprinted from the February 2003 Issue
 of the OKC Outdoor Network – Newsletter
on Stinchcomb Wildlife Refuge
~ Author – Jeff Patterson ~

I had returned on an early afternoon flight from San Antonio.  Having been crammed in a plane with a hundred other people and fighting my way through thousands more at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, I was ready to get as far away from people as possible.

I grabbed my kayak and headed for Oklahoma City’s best place to find solitude outdoors: The Stinchcomb Wildlife Refuge.

The Stinchcomb Wildlife Refuge lies north of Lake Overholser and follows the North Canadian River past Morgan Road in Yukon. It contains over 1,000 acres that haven’t changed much in the last 150 years. Hundreds of birds, small mammals such as beaver, and deer make their homes in the refuge.

The primary ways to enjoy the refuge are by foot, mountain bike and boat. Several trails suitable for hiking run through the refuge linking four small lakes to the river. Entrances to the trails are from NW 50th on the east side of the refuge and County Line and Morgan Roads on the west side.

Several geocaches are hidden in the refuge. Locations for the geocaches can be found from the Geo Caching link on the Outdoor Network’s website. Both the caches are off-trail in areas that can be muddy and have dense vegetation. Be sure you have extra batteries for your GPS to find your way back out.

Mountain bikers can ride the service road and a few trails the entire length of the refuge. Less experienced mountain bikers will find the road and trails less technical than the Bluff Creek trail system north of Lake Hefner.

Boating in the refuge is typically by recreational kayak or canoe. Kayakers can put in at Morgan Road and float nearly 6 miles down the North Canadian River to Lake Overholser (there is also a nice launch site north of Yukon on highway 4 and another by going north on Garth Brooks Blvd (from route 66).

Canoeists and kayakers will frequently put in just south of the old Route 66 bridge and paddle up the river for several miles before returning.

The level and flow of the river makes every trip a little different.

When the river is high, paddlers can adventure through reeds to Street Car Lake or paddle up the river to Morgan Road. A faster flowing river provides a challenge to paddle up river and makes the return trip more adventuresome.

Along the river and lakes, the signs of wildlife are constant. Blue herons, owls and ducks can be seen year round. Egrets and cranes will often visit during the warmer months. The felled trees from the many wild beaver in the refuge may be seen every few feet. The hoofed tracks of deer are abundant. At dusk the wildlife comes out to play. Deer sightings are common. The tail slaps of swimming beavers as you approach to close are heard. Bats dance in the sky as they emerge to chase insects above your head. In warmer weather fish will jump from the water as you paddle by.

Oklahoma City has plans to increase access to the refuge with a park planned in the vicinity of Street Car Lake and additional trails throughout the area.

Stinchcomb Wildlife Refuge begins at the North end of
Lake Overholser and stretches for over 1000 acres
following the path of the North Canadian River.

This environmental treasure was acquired by the late Lee Stinchcomb in the historic Land Run of 1889

Rich with topological variety ranging from bottomland forest to shallow-lake marshlands, Stinchcomb Wildlife Refuge provides a habitat suitable for countless species of plant and animal life.

Large numbers of songbirds, both migrant and resident,
 use the refuge.

For that reason, Stinchcomb is currently used as a bird banding station, run by local ornithologists for the Department of Interior.

I frequently paddle the North Canadian River above Lake Overholser and through the Stinchcomb Wildlife Refuge and I am always amazed at the wildlife we see during both the heat of the day and the early evening hours.
~ Bill Becquart

The Stinchcomb Wildlife Refuge is FULL of whitetail deer, beaver, egrets, raccoons, dove, ducks, geese, rabbit, fox and
much, much more !!!!

What more could you ask for – than a great trip up the river on a Sunday morning with one of your friends!

Come explore a little
 have a great time !!

General Information

** You will need your own kayak
 and it needs to be properly tagged
 and registered with the State of Oklahoma
and have an OKC Boat Permit
or you face multiple fines & also expulsion from the river

You will also need to bring & wear while you are on the water
your PFD (Life Jacket)
and if you plan to paddle at night
 you will also need a white light that can be left on continuously

We usually meet to paddle a few hundred yards south of the 39th Street Bridge on the west side of
East Overholser Drive
Click here for a map

Members of the OKC Outdoor Network do a
Cleanup of The North Canadian River above Lake Overholser and through the Stinchcomb Wildlife Refuge every year
during National River Cleanup Week

Click Here – for the Watershed Profile for this river

The Oklahoma City Outdoor Network is a
Citizen-based Group at work in this watershed

Contact OKC-ON Member Bill Becquart
if you would be interested in joining us on our next cleanup !!!!

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