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My Favorite Central Oklahoma Trails: Clear Bay, Nu-Draper, and Bluff Creek

Enjoy as Julie shares her favorite trails in the heart of Oklahoma.

Clear Bay


I have to talk about my home trails first, because they are my favorite. My blood, sweat and tears are on these heavily wooded trails and I feel like I know most of them like the back of my hand. The Clear Bay trails at Lake Thunderbird are great for new and seasoned trail runners alike and have over 18 miles of single track goodness. The trail system consists of five connecting loops that can be run separately or added together for maximum mileage. You can pick your level of difficulty: green, yellow and red trails are loops with a milder terrain for easy cruising, the blue loop has some steeper hills to climb and is a little more challenging and technical. I add this loop in when I want a more challenging and scenic run as it takes you down near the lake for some great lake views and cool breezes.



The ultimate challenge is the gold loop. Lots of short, steep (crazy steep!) hills, and rolling technical terrain with rocks and roots. There is even a teeter-totter for the mountain bikers…or trail runners that feel like they just have to conquer it!



The gold loop definitely has a roller coaster type feel! If you are new to Clear Bay, I suggest printing and taking a map with you. Bicycle League of Norman is the trail sponsor and they do a great job maintaining and marking the trails, but there are a few spots that can get a little bit confusing if you are not familiar with the trails. There are a couple of large maps on wooden frames scattered throughout the trail system for reference and one at the trail head if you start at Clear Bay. You can also access the trails a mile east of Clear Bay over by the dam and this starts you right on the gold loop.

Important to know, although these trails are amazing during the fall, winter and early spring months, during late spring and summer the ticks, chiggers and poison ivy tend to take over. During dry summers it’s not such a problem but if we have a wet year…YOU’VE BEEN WARNED!


There are nice heated bathrooms, pavilion and picnic tables available at both the Clear Bay trail head and the dam trail head. There are some water spigots, but I recommend bringing your own water to carry with you. There is no fee for using these trails.

For directions to Clear Bay: The main entrance to Clear Bay is on the north side of Highway 9, about 12 miles east of I-35. The trailhead is across the street from the horse stables on the east side of Clear Bay Avenue. There is an alternate trailhead off the west side of Dam Road, which is about one mile further east on Highway 9.

Clear Bay trail map can be found here:

Information on Lake Thunderbird state park.


The Lake Stanley Draper trails are very well maintained trails just east of Oklahoma City. These heavily wooded 12 miles of trails are mostly non-technical with little real elevation change except for the red loop which has some short steep climbs. The trails are wide and very well marked with a lot of bail-outs in case you bite off more than you can chew and decide to hightail it back to the parking lot. Draper has a lot of tight turns and twisty sections that can make you a little dizzy if you are a fast runner. Lucky for me, I’m not! These trails fare better with the ticks and chiggers than other lake trails seem to. Occasionally I will get a chigger or two but that is rare and I usually don’t even bother with bug spray.


The mountain bikers have had fun out here with the trails. Oklahoma Earthbike Fellowship is involved with improvement to the trail and parking area. There are some creative, funny signs along the trails and even the remnants of an old homestead, aptly named “Bubba’s Homestead”, complete with old homesteader cooking utensils hanging in the trees and farm implements strewn beside the trail.



There is a large gravel parking lot, portable toilet and a picnic table. That I know of, there is no water available at Draper so bring your own. There is no fee for using these trails.

For directions to Draper: From I-240, take the Douglas exit. Travel north on Douglas to SE 74th Street. Go east one mile to Post Road. Turn south approximately half a mile to the trail entrance. Parking is on the east side of the road.

NuDraper trail map can be found here:

Bluff Creek Trails


Bluff Creek is a pretty little park maintained by Oklahoma Earthbike Fellowship that has four miles of slightly technical, challenging trails in an urban setting just north of Hefner Lake. Expect well-marked, tight, twisty single track and plenty of short but steep hills. You might even get your feet wet if there have been recent rains since the trail makes its way through a creek several times which makes for some quick up-and-downs. There is a one mile asphalt loop that you can add in to make it five miles of running if you want.

This is a popular park for mountain bikers, dog walkers and trail runners which can be good if you are running alone and don’t want to feel isolated, just make sure and listen carefully for others on the trail.


There is a large paved parking lot, portable toilet, pavilion and picnic tables. I’m not aware of any water available at Bluff Creek so as always, bring your own! There is no fee for using the trails.

For directions to Bluff Creek: Bluff Creek is located just north of Lake Hefner in Oklahoma City (right below the dam) at the intersection of W. Hefner Road and N. Meridian Ave.

Bluff Creek trail map can be found here:

– Julie Dolph

About the author

Julie Dolph Julie’s running journey began 13 years ago and has since learned so much about herself. She learned about personal strength and perseverance. Anything is possible! Three years after starting this trail running journey, Julie is proud to have finished a variety of distances up to 50 miles. For more information on Julie, check out the About page where you can visit her adventure blog.

2 Responses to “My Favorite Central Oklahoma Trails: Clear Bay, Nu-Draper, and Bluff Creek”

  1. on 15 Nov 2013 at 3:59 pm olga

    Wow, Julie, you are so lucky! I am going to have to check them out once back to running and visiting in-laws! Looks so inviting, unlike my heck of the no-woods! 🙂 Thanks!

  2. on 15 Nov 2013 at 5:49 pm Julie

    Thanks, Olga! By far the best trail running (in my opinion) in Oklahoma is eastern Oklahoma in and around the Ouachita mountains and SE Oklahoma around Beavers Bend. But I’m lucky that there are some good options nearby, too. 🙂