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Pets allowed
Allowed with Restrictions
Elevation Gain
692.00 ft (210.92 m)
Trail type
There-and-back
Distance
8.20 mi (13.20 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

The Black Mesa Nature Preserve lies quietly between the rugged terrain of the Rocky Mountains and the vast rolling plains of the short grass prairie, creating a hidden oasis in the very northwest corner of the Oklahoma panhandle. Within the preserve stands a plateau with a marker indicating the highest point in all of Oklahoma with views of Oklahoma and Colorado to the north, the hazy blue mountain peaks of New Mexico to the west, and Texas 30 miles in the distance. The preserve lies within Cimarron County, the only county in the entire United States that borders four states: Kansas, Colorado, New Mexico, and Texas.

Upon approach the shortgrass prairie quickly drops and rises into steep valleys and buttes where the road winds to a sign pointing toward Black Mesa Nature Preserve. Visitors are encouraged to travel the entry road slowly because there are three cattle crossings along the roadway. A small gravel parking lot with a sheltered restroom and a gated entry greet guests visiting the preserve. When planning a trip to the area, it is worth noting that Boise City is the last location to get gas, food, or other provisions, and it is a 40-mile drive away. However, approximately 10 miles from the preserve lies the Black Mesa State Park, which offers a campground.

Temperatures in this part of the Midwest can easily get exceedingly hot during the summer, making spring and fall optimal times to hike the trail. Hikers should plan to pack plenty of water because the air can be hot and dry. The trail itself is approximately 4.2 miles one way to the summit at the top of the plateau. Visitors will cross through the pedestrian gate and wind through short grasses, wildflowers, cacti, and evergreen trees. Black Mesa Preserve, according to The Nature Conservancy’s website, acquired its name from the lava flows that were present over 30 million years ago. Remnants are easily visible because the trail can be littered with crumbled, black rock. Comfortable hiking shoes are encouraged when traversing the trails because the rocky landscape makes the trail more than a beginner level trail. Hikers should plan a minimum of four hours to complete the hike from the base to the summit marker.

The trail is well marked and winds through the low landscape with periodic reveals of the plateau and surrounding spindle-top formations. After about 2 miles the trail begins its ascent up the plateau. Rocky paths create switchbacks as the route climbs in elevation. The grand view of the mesa is revealed three-quarters of the way up. Black rock gives way to the red dirt of the southwest as grass, cacti, and evergreens attempt to reclaim the landscape, but the buttes reach higher.

Continue on to reach the peak of the mesa with approximately 1 mile remaining to reach the summit marker. The remaining mile is easy and it loops out and around the plateau. The marker notes the distance to Texas, Colorado, and New Mexico.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Spring
Summer
Fall

Congestion

Low

Parking Pass

None

Open Year-round

Yes

Pros

Expansive views. Low congestion on the trail.

Cons

Remote. Closest food and fuel is located in Boise City.

Trailhead Elevation

4,139.00 ft (1,261.57 m)

Highest point

4,832.00 ft (1,472.79 m)

Net Elevation Gain

692.00 ft (210.92 m)

Features

Family friendly
Big vistas
Big Game Watching
Wildlife
Bird watching
Wildflowers
Geologically significant

Typically multi-day

No

Permit required

No

Location

Field Guide

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