Eric Standridge is a historian and author who focuses on Oklahoma's history, with an emphasis on LeFlore County and Poteau.
The Mountain Gateway in southeast Oklahoma is the premier destination location for outdoor recreation.
Centered around the tri-city area of Poteau, Wister, and Heavener, the Mountain Gateway is one of the most beautiful areas of the country. The rolling hills and tranquil lakes lead visitors on towards the Ouachita Mountains.
During the outlaw days of the mid to late 1800s, the area was known as Indian Territory. Stories abound of outlaws and lawmen. From those early origins, the tri-city area has grown significantly, but it still retains much of that wild old-world charm.
Long Lake Resort and Tourist Visitor Center
Any outdoor adventure should begin at Long Lake Resort. Long Lake Resort is one of Oklahoma's best-kept secrets. Its twin lakes are perfect for boating and fishing. In 2017, they began adding a lot of other outdoor recreation options, such as kayak and canoe rentals, mountain bike rentals, horseback and wagon rides, archery, lawn games, and plans are in the works to add even more options for 2018. For those who love to fish, Long Lake stays stocked throughout the year.
There are several cabins located on site, as well as modern RV spaces. For the kids, there's a large playground and splash pad on site. The dwarf-ponies and buffalo that are always a big hit. Before deciding to stay at Long Lake Resort, be sure to call ahead as the cabins stay booked for most of the year.
Day passes are available for all of the recreation activities at Long Lake Resort. Stop in at the Visitor Center at Long Lake for details.
Lake Wister State Park
From Long Lake Resort, head southwest to get to Lake Wister State Park. Lake Wister offeres a variety of outdoor recreation options. Stop in at the lake office for more area information.
On Querry Island, you'll find a boat launch as well as paved walking and biking trails. A large playground, pavilion, and workout station can be found towards the back end of the island.
The park wraps around the lake. Along the west coast, you'll find more walking and hiking trails, RV parks, playgrounds and other features.
One of the most interesting destination points at Lake Wister is the old Lone Star School. This one-room schoolhouse no longer exists, but the historic site has a lot of information about the area. Outdoor classes are still held here.
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The lake is perfect for skiing and other boating activities. There are many "hidden" alcoves perfect for fishing. Throughout the year, many fishing tournaments take place here.
One of the major attractions to Lake Wister State Park is the hunting. Deer, turkey, waterfowl, rabbit, squirrel, bobcats, coyotes, racoon, beaver, skunk, opossum, river otter, fox, quail, dove, and black bear are some of the most common game.
Before leaving, stop by the Army Corps of Engineers office. Inside, you'll find a small museum as well as information about the Wister Dam.
The Rotary Outdoor Complex
The Rotary Outdoor Complex has some of the most picturesque rugged outdoor trails in Southeast Oklahoma. Located at the base of Cavanal Hill, the trails wind up steep slopes and through small canyons. With over 30 acres worth of trails, these are perfect for hiking, mountain biking, or offroading.
In years past, the ROC was the location of the LeFlore County Girl Scout camp. Many of the structures built during that time still exist, including the large pavilion and cooking area, restrooms, and tables.
The park is undergoing rennovations and upgrades, but the trails are available for anyone who wants to use them.
Big Fox Run
Big Fox Run opened in 2017 and has been one of the most frequented destination points in the region for offroaders. The park features over 400 acres of wooded trails, mud pits, obstacle courses, hill climbs, and deep water crossings. It is geared for ATV's, but any off-road vehicle is permitted. For those staying overnight, primitive camping spaces are available.
In addition to the ATV trails, boats and jet skis are also welcome on the large onsite lake on the property.
For those seeking more relaxed outdoor recreation, Poteau offers two beautiful golf courses.
The Choctaw Country Club and Golf Course is the oldest course in the region, and is one of the few remaining 9 hole courses in the state. It was recently updated with Champion Bermuda Greens and features several different teeing off points per hole. On site, there is also a large Clubhouse, Pro Shop, Driving Range, and Swimming Pool.
Wolf Ridge is a newer course. This 18 hole course stretches the length of Wolf Mountain and offers some spectacular view of the area.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2017 Eric Standridge