Turner Falls Park in Davis, Oklahoma

Turner Falls Park sits below the Arbuckle Mountains and is part of Honey Creek. Along Honey Creak sits a beautiful seventy-seven foot waterfall  that forms a natural swimming pool making Turner Falls the largest waterfall in Oklahoma. The park is one of the more popular places to visit in Oklahoma and people from all over the country will visit when they are in the area. They come to their to see the falls, two natural swimming pools, scenic picnic areas, nature trails, and the caves. One of those natural swimming pools is part of the waterfall/natural swimming pool and the other one is more of a water park with slides and other fun things to do around that pool.

Turner Falls – History

Turner Falls Park

Turner Falls was discovered by Mazeppa Thomas Turner who settled nearby along Honey Creak. The area around the falls have been a recreational area since 1868 making it the oldest park in Oklahoma. The recreational area came under the ownership of the city of Davis in 1919. In 1925 the city purchased 370 acres for the park from the Turner family.  Davis operated the park until 1950, and then leased it out until 1978, when they resumed management of the area.

Collings Castle

Collings Castle - Inside Turner Falls Park

An interesing part of Turner Falls Park is the abandoned Collings Castle. Built by the late Ellsworth C. Collings  in 1930. No one really knows why he built the house as a castle but it was his summer home and he and his wife had friends with cabins in the area. Eventually the City of Davis bought the castle in 1977.  I believe in the 1980s the castle was finally abandoned.

Currently the park has plans to restore the old castle but due to lacking funds, the restoration is put off over and over again.

Towards the end of our visit, we stopped by the castle to explore it. The castle is built into the side of the mountain and sits on about an acre of land. Much of the castle is hidden by vegetation or has fallen due to disrepair.

Very little has been done to preserve the castle and you can see signs of vandalism. Overall it has a dark, cramped and creepy feeling to it. The stairs are to small and many of the rooms and hallways were made for someone well under 6 ft. I really can’t see how anyone could have lived here unless it was one or two people living a tiny house lifestyle.

The castle is a great stop if you are already visiting the park and I can’t wait to see it once its restored. I bet it will feel more homely than creepy.

For more information about the castle, check out this article I found.

Hiking Trails

Turner Falls Park - Fire Break Trail

Turner Falls Park has some great hiking trails and beginner rock climbing trails that have a ton of great views. Most official trails are maintained and there are a ton of unofficial trails that will take your through hidden areas of the park.

What I don’t like is most of the trail heads aren’t marked or if they are marked they are not seen from the road. Other trails often went through campsites and other parts of the park, it got confusing and hard to stay on trail. If you got to far off trail, you might not find where the trail picks up again.

Basically all the trails (except for a few side trails) will lead you in a circle around the park. Some of those were true hiking tails while others are through parking lots, campsites, and roadways. The maps should note the changes in the trails. Those changes might help avoid confusion and help keep people walking through someone campsite.

If the trails were marked the trails would have 5 five stars on AllTrails.com. Plus we couldn’t even find all of the trails available. We even used the map provided by the park! They seriously need to spend some of their budget to mark their trails better and have signs through the park pointing to the different trails.

Hidden Trail along Honey Creek - Turner Falls Park

We started our hike on the Mountain Trail (2 miles) and continued onto another trail the park map calls it the Mountain Trail (.5) but the trail head map calls it Fire Break Trail. The trail ends near a few campsites and the unmarked passes through those sites and gets very narrow as it follows Honey Creek.  This trail is very short and empties out near the cabin shelters.

Advice for the Trails

These are easy trails that are a mix of shade and the baking sun. Make sure to wear comfortable clothing, bring sunscreen (if you stay on trail, it takes about an hour, if you explore one of the off trails, it will take a lot longer), and bring plenty of water.

On our hike, I carried my day pack loaded with my landscape photography gear and water (in water tight pockets). I wore the camera on a strap around my neck and had my backup lenses in the pack along with almost 2 liters of water. We used about a liter and half on that hike and used an additional liter during the rest of off trail hikes.

The second leg of the trail follows the ridge of the mountain and you can see where previous years the fire damage along the trail and the new wind power farms across the landscape. This makes for a hot and arid walk. Make sure to save some water for this part of the walk.

If you decide to explore the unofficial trails or do some rock climbing you will need a sturdy pair of shoes or hiking boots to protect ankles and feet. The rocks are slippery and have gravel and loose debris covering the trails and rock face.

Turner Falls Park - Bridal Veil Falls on Honey Creek

My suggestion would be to do the rock climbing and cave exploring first, followed by exploring the top of the falls. If you aren’t use to this kind of strenuous activity it will wear you out. Once top of the falls, you can  follow the stream up hill to Bridal Veil Falls. If you choose to check the smaller falls up stream, you might have to get wet.

Make sure to bring extra clothing and shoes. Hiking those trails in soggy shoes will ruin your feet and ruin the rest of your vacation.

If you aren’t interested in swimming, then go during the posted winter schedule and go during the week. Almost no one was there until about 3 pm then it got busier but not to busy that it was crowded. Check out the admissions page for pricing and when summer and winter season start.

AllTrails.com

Are you into hiking, trail riding, trail running, or just getting back to nature and want to get out walk some nature trails, then you need to check all AllTrails.com. They have a ton of information in your area about the trails and parks listed. It’s a community based system so at times it can be hard to get maps and new trails added. But overall their pc based site and iOS and Android apps have helped find new trails and help us stay on trail when a trail wasn’t marked. Not all the trails I hike will be listed on my personal blog but I do plan to add more as I have to time review and post them. Get a sneak of a possible article by following my profile on AllTrails.com. In most cases I will follow you back.

About the Images

Images were shot by hand on a sunny day with a Sony A6000 using a Sony E 55-210mm F4.5-6.3 Lens or a Sony SEL16F28 16mm f/2.8 Wide-Angle Lens or the Sony SELP1650 16-50mm Power Zoom Lens. The images were then edited using Adobe Lightroom to crop, straighten and clean up the images. I used Google NIK Collection and TopazLabs Clarity to add detail, add contrast, and sharpen/remove noise. As always my images are for sale with or without the watermark in digital and prints. Please contact me via the contact page for more information.

About James

James spends most of his free time using social media and loves to teach others about design, web development, CSS, SEO, and social media. He is addicted to Wordpress, social media, and technology. You can reach him on his personal website, Evolutionary Designs Blog, Do not forget to follow him on Twitter @element321

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