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Turkey Mountain
Tulsa County

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From the 1986 edition of A Guide to Birding in Oklahoma published by the Tulsa Audubon Society. This account has been updated as of 2007.


 The Turkey Mountain Wilderness Area consists of over 300 acres of undeveloped property. It is a ridge along the west bank of the Arkansas River, about 1 and 1/2 miles long that stretches from the Southside Treatment Plant near I-44 to 71st Street and west from the river to the Elwood Avenue section line. At 300 feet above the Arkansas River (900 feet above sea level), the area offers spectacular panoramic views of Tulsa. The park is heavily wooded with Blackjack and Post Oak, except around the two large ponds which support a greater variety of trees preferring moister soils. Dirt trails wind throughout the property for hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding.

The parking lot is located on Elwood Avenue, between 61st and 71st Streets. Heading west on the 71st Street bridge, take the first right, about 1/2 mile from the bridge. From Highway 75 (the Okmulgee Beeline), exit onto 71st Street, and go .7 miles east, and turn north onto Elwood. The parking area is .6 miles north of 71st on Elwood. Note that on many maps, Turkey Mountain is shown at the location of Cecille Balles Park, on Union Avenue north of 61st Street. This error is even present on the Government Topo map.

There are two loops which can be hiked, of 1 or 2 miles. Both begin at the southeast corner of the parking lot. The trail heads east for about 1/4 mile through Oak woods, and opens to a clearing at the ridge. A side trail leads from the southeast corner of the clearing for several hundred yards to another small clearing. The main trail resumes north through the woods along the ridgeline for about 1/2 mile. At this point the trail splits. You can turn west and loop back to the parking area, through some moist wooded areas, taking the short side trial to the upper pond. The other option is to continue north along the ridgeline for another 1/2 mile, where the trail comes out to the transmission lines. A trail under the lines leads back to the parking lot through open field and shrub habitat. About halfway to the parking lot, the trail passes between the two lower ponds.

The best season to visit Turkey Mountain is spring. It is one of the better areas in the County for migrating warblers. The trails through the woods produce many woodland species, such as Summer Tanager, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, and Nashville and Tennessee Warblers. The trail along the ridge also has Olive-sided Flycatchers and abundant Great-crested Flycatchers. Screech Owls have been found in the southern clearing, and can be called in with a tape. Chuck-Will's-Widow is abundant, and Whip-Poor-Will is rare. The best warbler areas are along the trail which follows the transmission lines, and especially the areas around the upper and lower ponds. Yellow, Black-and-White, Mourning, Black-throated Green, Wilson's and Canada Warblers, Ovenbirds and Louisiana Waterthrush have all been found in these areas. The lower ponds also often have an Olive-sided Flycatcher, and Acadian, Least, Willow and Alder Flycatchers have been found there. Red-shouldered Hawks nest in the area of the lower ponds, as do Pileated Woodpeckers. Blue Grosbeaks and Indigo and Painted Buntings are common along the Power line trail and around the parking lot.

In the winter, the trail under the transmission lines is excellent for wintering sparrows.

John Kennington

 

 

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Copyright 2009 Tulsa Audubon Society
Last modified: September 21, 2009

 

 

 

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