OverviewCentral Peak is a rather unnoticed mountain located between Rush Lake and Lake Jed Johnson in the central part of the Wichita Mountain National Wildlife Refuge near Lawton, Oklahoma. The western base of the mountain extends into the WMNWR Special Use Restricted area. Although the mountain is accessible to the public from the north, east, and south, it is not as easy to climb as some mountains in the WMNWR. Central Peak is almost entirely covered with a ring of small brush, scrub oaks, cedars, and other trees commonly found in the park. There are no established trails other than those made by the local inhabitants... elk, deer, and buffalo.
The summit consists of two points, an east and west point. The west point appears to be slightly higher in elevation (especially when you are standing on top), although different views of the mountain from around the base and from the highway may seem to indicate differently. The view is well worth anyone's effort to make it to the summit. From the east point you can see Mt Scott, The Holy City, and Lawton OK in the distance. From the west point you can see Little Baldy, Mt Lincoln, Elk Mountain, and Sunset Peak. Here you are also afforded a fabulous view of the Special Use Area (Restricted) in the WMNWR.
You can easily spend the better part of a whole day on the mountain combined with hiking, fishing, etc, in the area around the base that joins Rush Lake and Lake Jed Johnson.
Getting ThereFrom Lawton OK:
If you are visiting the Wichita Mountain Wildlife Refuge from the Lawton area, you will most likely enter the park on Rt 49 from the H.E. Bailey Turnpike (I-44). It is approximately 8 miles from I-44 to the park. Once in the park continue on Rt 49 West until you pass the turnoff to Meers OK (Rt 115). Shortly after you pass the Meers turnoff you should turn right toward The Holy City - Rush Lake - and Jed Johnson Lake. Follow the signs past The Holy city to Rush Lake. There is a very small parking area at Rush Lake near the dam. Central Peak should be visible in the general direction across the lake and dam. You can also turn off this same road toward Jed Johnson Lake and park in the lot at the end of the road. Central Peak will be visible toward the west.
From Cache OK:
From US Rt 62, take Rt 115 N from Cache. It is about 6 miles from Cache to the WMNWR gate. Follow Rt 115 to Rt 49. Turn right (east) and you will immediately pass the WMNWR Visitor Center. Continue east on Rt 49. In about 2 miles you will see the south entrance to Jed Johnson Lake. If you turn left and go to the parking lot turn-around you will see Central Peak toward the north. If you continue east on Rt 49 you will come to The Holy City - Rush Lake - and Jed Johnson Lake turnoff (same as above). Turn left on this road and follow the signs past The Holy city to Rush Lake. There is a very small parking area at Rush Lake near the dam. Central Peak should be visible in the general direction across the lake and dam.
From the West:
Enter the WMNWR on Rt 49. Continue east past the Visitor Center and follow the above directions from Cache OK.
Distance to the Wichita Mountain Wildlife Refuge from various cities:
Amarillo TX, 214 miles
Dallas TX, 205 miles
Fort Smith AR, 263 miles
Oklahoma City OK, 86 miles
Tulsa OK, 191 miles
Wichita KS, 246 miles
Wichita Falls TX, 68 miles
CAUTION: Observe posted speed limit signs, especially at night. Park authorites will ticket you for violations. I know from first hand experience!
Red TapeThere is no fee to visit the Wichita Mountain National Wildlife Refuge. There are several picnicking areas throughout the park. There are opportunities for general camping, backcountry camping (Permit only) and there are numerous trails for hiking and backpacking. Boating is permitted but there are special rules that apply. Fishing is in accordance with state and federal regulations. Hunting is by lottery through the OK Department of Wildlife Conservation. There are tours and special programs provided by the park service. For specific rules and regulations and/or additional information, please check with the WMNWR Visitor Center or visit the site below.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge
Route 1, Box 448, Indiahoma, OK 73552 (580) 429-3222
Climbing NotesThe climb to the summit of Central Peak is a non-technical climb. There are no marked trails. Depending on the exact route that you take, it will involve a lot of bushwhacking, hiking, bouldering, and even some easy to moderate scrambling as you get closer to the peak. There may be a lot of animal trails that will be somewhat helpful as you make your way through the heavy brush and trees.
To begin a climb of Central Peak you can start in one of three places…. the parking lot at Rush Lake, the north parking lot at Jed Johnson Lake ( near the Lake Tower), or the south parking lot at Jed Johnson Lake. At this point, the only route(s) I have tried is from the parking lot above the dam at Rush Lake. Starting from this point, you should cross the creek below the dam staying fairly close to the dam. Looking across the dam you should see Central Peak straight in front of you and a little to the west (right). There is a smaller separate peak to the left and a lower ridge that you will have to climb before you begin the actual ascent of Central Peak. After you cross the creek below the dam you will need to continue upward and to the right in about the 2 o'clock direction. You will have to do a lot of bushwhacking, but eventually as you gain elevation you should come into some areas of clearing especially after you climb over the first ridge. From here you should be able to select the most appropriate route for your final ascent. (Refer to the Topo Image in this section for a visual of this route.)
CampingThe Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge offers a fully developed camping facility.
Doris Campground is located about 1 1/2 miles to the west of the Visitor Center. This campground is fully developed with water, fire grills, picnic tables, sanitary dump stations, shower & restroom facilities, tent sites, some electrical hookups, and trailer spaces. Sites are first come - first served. There is limited group camping by reservation only. Fees are charged.
Backcountry camping (by permit only) is available in the Charon's Garden Wilderness Area further to the west.
Hiking Health and SafetyDepending on what season of the year that you hike in the Wichita Mountains you may need to be concerned with ticks, chiggers, and other potential insect threats. Insect repellent is always a good idea. Upon returning home, be sure to wash your clothes and check your body for ticks. They will often show up a day or two later. Always treat any insect bite with concern. If sickness, fever, aching, etc, follow an insect bite you should seek your doctors care.
Beware of the animals in the refuge. Buffalo and Longhorn Steer can be dangerous if cornered or threatened. Snakes are also plentiful. Always be alert and aware of your surroundings. Remember, a good hike is a safe hike.
External LinksWICHITA MOUNTAINS WILDLIFE REFUGE Website
US WILDLIFE AREAS Website
WICHITA MOUNTAINS COBBLESTONE GAZETTE