It was pretty warm by the time I got out on my bike — 70°F (21C). Somehow I knew this wouldn’t be much of an adventure, and I didn’t run across a single place that called my name. Still, I wanted to see for myself so I’d know what was there. You might want to click on the map and see it full-sized, because this was a three-pronged sally down from the north end of Draper Lake Drive.
Coming in on the Sooner Road corridor, the starting point is the new defacto horse trailer parking area. That’s where I see them most often these days. They can pulling into that big gravel circle on the upper left corner of the map image and enter the trail system. The first thing we encounter south of that loop is a very large flat washout area. The peculiar thing was the how flat it was; you could see where the water from heavy rains gets pushed out wide as it slowly runs down into the gully on the west side. I tramped down a couple of trails just a short ways. Lovely single track, but it’s not really for bikes.
I went back out and dropped into the valley, then turned right at the top of the next ridge. This entire ridge is called Point 9 and it’s the only part of the entire recreation area with signs insisting on a no-wheels policy off the pavement. Only feet, hooves, and paws are allowed because Parks and Rec is trying to restore the area from abusive damage. Oddly, this place is shot through with well-used foot paths. I locked my bike to one of the signs about no wheels at the end of that long paved road and poked around the trails. The first and best used trail ended in a dangerous drop over the shore bluff. So I poked around a bit and found out how to get out on the east side of that lagoon you can see on the satellite image. Today the water was up, so it was just a sheltered cove. The most picturesque thing was the exposed rock facing above that lagoon.
Back to the bike and back out again to the main road. Turning right once more I headed down to the actual East Elm Creek valley alongside the Douglas Boulevard entrance to the recreation area. I picked out the old track running along the east bank of the creek. I really wasn’t all that interested in riding out too far, but I wanted to see the flood pond on the east side of the creek bed. It was quiet and showed signs of fisherman all around it, but today it was just hot and felt desolate. I could have easily ridden farther along that track, but it didn’t seem too inviting. It runs up to an inlet that separates the fancy accommodations farther south from the wild stuff.
So I ground my way along the sandy bumpy trail back out and took Douglas Boulevard northward all the way to SE 15th. The traffic was just light enough to be tolerable.