Residents of large, inland cities often have to travel long distances to find water. There might be a small river flowing through town, but serious water recreation often requires a road trip to the countryside. But this isn’t the case in Oklahoma City because just a few minutes northwest of downtown lies a body of water large enough for sailing and small watercraft activities. I’m referring to Lake Hefner, an urban lake popular with locals and tourists.
Recreation and More
Lake Hefner is a man- made lake covering about 2,500 acres or 4 square miles. It’s a popular place for sailing and its shores include docks and dry storage for boats. During the warmer months of the year, it is common to find sailboat races taking place on the lake. Fishing is popular as well and many locals like to visit Lake Hefner for exercise. A large pathway encircles the entire lake and it’s wide enough for bicyclists and joggers/walkers to share the path without any problem.
I visited Lake Hefner in the early fall season and the most popular activity at the time was fitness. I walked along the circular pathway and every few minutes, a jogger or biker would fly past me on their way around the lake. The setup is perfect for this purpose, as the pathway winds all the way around the lake and offers some great views, particularly at sunset.
For those who like to fish, Lake Hefner has you covered. The lake is populated with smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, walleye, bluegill, and other species. Just make sure you have a valid fishing permit (available for purchase nearby) and you’re ready to go.
Fun for the Kids
Boating and recreation are nice, but what about the kids, you ask? Well, there is no need to worry because Lake Hefner has several children’s playgrounds located on the lake’s edge. Stars and Stripes Park, on the southeastern edge of the lake, features a large playground that the kids will love. Its patriotic theme is cute and it offers wide open views of Lake Hefner for everyone’s enjoyment.
Food and Refreshments
If all of the fun and recreation has you hungry/thirsty, Louie’s Grill & Bar, Hefner Grill, Redrock Canyon Grill, and Mama Roja Mexican Kitchen are among the many lakeside restaurants ready to serve. Redrock Canyon Grill is probably the most popular not just for its great food, but also for its location. It’s close to the lighthouse, which is situated at the end of a narrow piece of land, jutting into the lake. The lighthouse is a popular stopover, before or after a meal, and it offers some excellent photo opportunities.
America’s inland cities are often lacking when it comes to water recreation but Oklahoma City’s Lake Hefner is an exception to the rule. I spent about an hour and a half here, walking along the pedestrian pathway and watching the sun set over the picturesque waters. The area was calm and tranquil when I was there, with a light breeze creating the only audible sound.
With boating, fishing, exercise, and some of the highest rated restaurants in the Oklahoma City area on its shores, Lake Hefner is the perfect place for a quick getaway. Whether you live in Oklahoma City or are visiting and need a nature fix, Lake Hefner has the cure you need, just moments from downtown. Check it out, if you can, and enjoy your time in Oklahoma’s capital city.
Copyright 2015, Bryan Carey