Deep in the heart of Oklahoma, in the city of Norman, there's a cycling oasis that's been the talk of many an enthusiast: the Thunderbird Trail. With a reputation for being the crème de la crème in the OKC metro area, this trail network is a delightful confluence of nature, challenges, and breathtaking terrains.
Vital Trail Information
- Distance: 15 miles
- Level: Intermediate
- Route Type: Network
- City: Norman
- State: Oklahoma
- Elevation: A notable 1000ft elevation change over 8+ miles, primarily marked by climbs.
- Trail Condition: Predominantly smooth Singletrack. However, it's imperative to be equipped with a current map as new trails are frequently added, currently extending to approximately 25 miles.
- Challenges: A blend of steep drop-ins, switchbacks, sandy patches, and wooden features, including a notoriously tricky teeter-totter. Some features, especially on the Gold sections, showcase intricate carpentry work that adds to the thrill.
- Flora and Fauna: While the area boasts of rich wildlife, including turkeys and deer, riders should be cautious of ticks, especially during certain seasons. The trail is also notorious for patches of poison ivy, particularly around the yellow trail.
Reaching the Trail
From Hwy 9, east of Norman, OK, direct towards Thunderbird Lake for 12+ miles. Taking a left turn (north) at Clear Bay will lead to the trailhead in about 3/4 mile. The trailhead is easily identifiable and is dotted with helpful maps throughout.
- Variety: The trail system offers a broad spectrum of experiences, from easy rides to challenging terrains. The Gold course, reserved for the daring, is a notable mention.
- Maintenance: Exceptional upkeep is frequently highlighted, especially with newer signs making navigation a breeze. The trail also boasts of semi-advanced "expert" trails, with riskier parts well-signposted and alternatives available for those seeking milder challenges.
- Cautionary Tales: While the trail offers a myriad of exciting features, some, like the teeter-totter, have caught riders off-guard, leading to some unforgettable stories.
- Seasonal Insights: Summer might not be the best time for a ride, with some mentioning lack of maintenance, fallen trees, and a tick infestation. It's inferred that the trail is best enjoyed during winter months.
Thunderbird Trail isn't just another biking path; it's an experience, a testament to the passionate cycling community of Oklahoma. While it offers varying levels of thrill, it also demands respect and preparation. Whether one is seeking an adrenaline rush or a serene ride amidst nature, Thunderbird Trail promises to be a memorable journey.