I carried my bike in the backseat, minus the front wheel. It was a tight fit, but it was better than having it rattling in the wind on my cheap bike carrier. The Will Rogers Trail opened just a few weeks ago, running from the River Trail (north bank) at May Avenue to the connecting trail on the south side of Lake Hefner’s trail system. The first leg is under Interstate 40 and across a busy intersection at Reno and May, but the bike trail is nicely merged into the traffic controls so I had no trouble crossing.
This was the most expensive bike trail so far, in part because buying the right-of-way was more expensive, but also because it required substantial engineering changes in several places. This second shot shows the east side of the State Fair Grounds. Trust me, the fair grounds are ugly now, because half of the stuff has been removed over the years. There are a few exhibit/event buildings, but almost none of the historic attractions. Who would imagine here in the Midwest, they would tear down the motor race track? That’s un-American!
As the trail heads north from the main north entrance to the fairgrounds, it takes over one whole lane of a regular street, and stays like that up to NE16th. There it crosses over Interstate 44 (AKA, Will Rogers Parkway) and then winds along the western side of that highway all the way up past NE 36th, not quite to the old US Route 66 at NW39th.
Along the way, the trail runs on the eastern side of Will Rogers Park. (Get the idea of a theme here?) Aside from a couple of fixtures and the landscape, this park looks nothing like it did when I came to visit as a child 55 years ago. Getting across the old US 66, they took advantage of an existing crossing at Saint Clair. Again, it was merged into the traffic controls nicely and drivers tend to be tolerant. I had no trouble crossing.
Heading north, I noticed that an entire mile of brick wall was built just for this trail to block out freeway noise and so forth. I’ll bet the local residents like that. At one point I had this view of the NW OKC skyline. On the far right the burgundy framed tower was formerly the infamous Penn Square Bank that went belly-up in 1982. Just a bit left of there is the famous Founders Tower, previously the tallest thing out this way for quite some years. It was standing when I was just seven and I can remember my Dad pointing it out to me when it was new. Most of the tall structures left of that all belong to our famous third hospital cluster. The main attraction was once called “Baptist Hospital” but is now Integris, famous for its heart research and treatment center. Off screen to the left is Deaconess Hospital; it and Baptist were out here alone for decades with just a few houses. More houses came, and then the medical industry exploded and so did the towers out this end of town.
The trail runs through the medical buildings on the west side of the freeway, then connects with Portland, up to the NW Expressway, then west along NW63rd to Meridian. From there it’s north to the lake. Along the way were miles of new wood fence as the bike path is mostly a wider sidewalk where sidewalks normally rest, in this case along the backside of a bunch of houses. It’s been a few weeks since I could take a long ride, so I didn’t feel like chasing all the way to Lake Hefner itself. This new trail ends where it connects to the Hefner trails system. I took this shot standing in the shade of a fragrant pine with this long look toward the golf course. Then I headed back the way I came.
On the way back I took this gratuitous shot of a rather nicely camouflaged mosque. It’s called the Islamic Society of Greater OKC (ISGOC). There really aren’t that many Muslims in Oklahoma (roughly 35K), but lots of Muslim money. You can look this one up, but it’s famous for offering an accommodating approach and blending into the local society as much as possible. They’ve made a lot of noise denouncing ISIS, for example.
The path is well done and very well protected. I think I may stop chasing the Katy Trail and Grand Boulevard on my giant loop 50-mile rides. This new trail is much more convenient and still runs about the same distance when I include Lake Overholser.