In The Community

The Deep Fork National Wildlife Refuge supports surrounding communities in many ways. 

Nature Tourism: 
Deep Fork National Wildlife Refuge offers excellent opportunities to see and enjoy wildlife.  Visitors from across the United States and several foreign countries come here to enjoy the nature trails and scenic views, and there are several environmental education programs, such as the National Archery in the Schools Program, that we provide to local students as a way to "introduce" them to the outdoors.  Oftentimes, many of these visitors stop in nearby communities to fill their tanks with gasoline or eat a good meal and some even stay in nearby hotels or campsites in Okmulgee. The refuge promotes the surrounding communities, supports local events, and encourages visitors to enjoy the many services and opportunities offered nearby. 

Deep Fork National Wildlife Refuge has two improved trails, one of which is a nationally recognized National Recreation Trail. The Cussetah Bottoms Boardwalk trail is the most popular, and brings visitors through eastern bottomland hardwood forest for 1,200 feet. The trail leads you over a quietly running creek and into the wetlands, where observation of wildlife is easier from an elevated view. Here prothonotary warblers flit among green leaves, while whitetail deer rest among large pin oaks that have blanketed the land for close to 100 years. The trail begins as an asphalt path that is easily accessible from our gravel parking lot, and meanders into the woods on a gently sloping walkway. A wooden boardwalk completes this trail, where you are lifted out of the wetlands to easily survey the nature below. Two wetland overlooks give ample viewing of this unique Oklahoma ecosystem, and birds such as red shouldered hawks, great egrets, and several different species of heron feeding on crawfish are readily seen.  Along the way, information panels guide you on a natural journey, and there are plenty of benches to catch a quiet moment surrounded by nature. A wildlife viewing blind is also available for public use, and there are several miles of unimproved trails that lead back to the Deep Fork River, although these trails have seasonal access dependent on factors. The paved portion pf Cussetah Bottoms and the boardwalk is ADA compliant. 

The second improved trail is the Railroad Trail and River Overlook. This trail is approximately one mile in length, where the bottomland hardwood forest surrounds you as you walk down an old railroad bed that carried coal from the mines as late as the 1950’s. While the railroad no longer exists, the history and nature surrounding the railway still echoes throughout the forest. The main trail is unpaved; however the trail is grassy, flat terrain to a boardwalk river overlook.  Beaver, red eared sliders, and several species of neotropical songbirds can be viewed as they carry about their daily activities along the banks of the Deep Fork River. If you are feeling adventurous, an additional trail comprised of old service roads leads up a steep hillside where an almost 360 degree view awaits you. (This portion of the trail is 5+ miles of sometimes dense underbrush and rocky outcroppings.)  Numerous wildflower species are in abundance during the summer months, and the unimproved service road portion of this trail is a must for anyone who enjoys a moderate workout while having the opportunity to view Deep Fork River and the surrounding bottomland hardwood forest from an aerial standpoint. Please call ahead to verify that the trails are open.


Helpful Information 
National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation 
Home Values Study