Treading for the Hills

Choctaw Country Destinations

Treading for the Hills

By Amanda McCarty

When it comes to hobbies with multiple benefits, mountain biking is one of those that ticks all the major boxes. Is it good for you? Check. Will you feel great while doing it? Check. Will it challenge you? Check. Is it a total body workout? Check. Most importantly, is it fun?


From the moment you grip the handlebars, the distractions of the outside world seem to fade away, disappearing in a cloud of dust and mud in the wake of your tires. The landscape flies by in a torrent of greens, blues and browns—shadows cascading through your periphery. And then it happens: the meditative pull of the trail has taken over, and you’ve surrendered yourself to living by the moment.

Each trail offers its own challenges, demanding you take up the gauntlet. As you navigate the nuances of each twist and turn, your movements are decided in an instant—and yet, they aren’t decided at all. They happen, and you hope you have the skills to gracefully adapt.

Leaning into the tread-worn curves, squeezing the brake handles, flying through the high-speed burns. All of these decisions become second nature, bringing with them a finer appreciation for the smallest details. Your legs burn as they pump through the inclines, and you’re rewarded by the welcome relief of soaring downhill. The whir of spokes creates a melody along with the angry buzz of rubber gripping the terrain and the crunch of gravel underneath. A thrill of exhilaration floods your senses as your bike catches air after a sudden rise in the rocky path.

It’s a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kind of ride, but in the end, it’s a journey well worth the adventure.

Lake View Lodge Trail | Beavers Bend State Park
Offering three different loops from which to choose, the Lake View Lodge Trail is like having three trails in one. If you’re fairly new to the world of mountain biking, or if your skill level is anything less than intermediate, Loop One is the perfect option with just under half a mile of moderate terrain. Looking for more of a challenge? Loops Two and Three bring more to the table with 1.75 miles and 4 miles of trail, respectively.

Carnasaw Nature Trail | McGee Creek Natural Scenic Recreation Area
When you’re ready to up your biking game, the Carnasaw Nature Trail allows you to spend a little more time honing your skills. Marked by rock formations and moderate inclines, this 6.7-mile loop offers a beautiful view of the rolling Oklahoma woodlands just outside Atoka. Just be sure to check in at the Ranger Station before hitting the trail.

Old Military Trail | Ouachita National Forest
With 11.5 miles of terrain and a 1,600-foot elevation gain, this out-and-back trail near Talihina is for those who are ready to really test their limits. If you’re craving an even greater challenge, the Old Military Trail meets up with Ouachita National Recreation Trail, offering a combined total of about 23 miles. True to Talihina’s reputation for gorgeous scenery, this trail delivers with its fairytale forest views, water attractions and gaps through the trees revealing peaceful slopes and valleys. This trail is not for the faint of heart and should only be approached by the experienced biker.