TULSA, Oklahoma - Friday, the National Park Service recognized the Turkey Mountain Urban Wilderness as part of the national trail system.

The honor comes as the Wilderness space gains ground and support builds for protecting it.

The designation could be another blanket of protection for the mountain, and the director of River Parks said it validates what Tulsa's been doing with the Urban Wilderness.

Turkey Mountain Urban Wilderness Area is located southwest of Tulsa and has almost seven miles of marked trails for beginners to advanced hikers.

“The Turkey Mountain Urban Wilderness Area is a gem for the Tulsa area, and it is a critical piece in our fitness and outdoor recreation system,” said Mayor Dewey Bartlett.

The area has become a place for families, that's why Chris Cruz and his family, from Jenks, go there so often.

"We come out here probably a couple of times a week," he said.

Friday, the Cruz children collected frogs while other families walked dogs or just enjoyed the outside.

Turkey Mountain has lots of wilderness space and almost seven miles of trails along the west bank of the river.

“The trails are heavily used for walking, running, biking and family fitness and nature hikes. Tulsans recognize Turkey Mountain as vital part of our Tulsa area park and trails system and a place to protect and preserve for fitness and outdoor recreational opportunities. I am thrilled that Turkey Mountain trails are receiving national attention, putting this park system on the national map,” Bartlett said.

River Parks said the new recognition from the Department of the Interior should draw attention, and possibly grant money for access point improvements - something Cruz would welcome.

“And leave Turkey Mountain as it is, and they can enjoy their biking running, with kids or alone, jogging, running,” he said.

Friday afternoon the trailhead got a fresh mowing in advance of Saturday’s National Trails Day - a day with added importance since the Urban Wilderness is now a national trail.

Turkey Mountain supporter, David Phillips said, "It is just a day to get out and celebrate these places and the outdoors that families can utilize for exercising and utilizing the beauty of being outdoors."

Phillips is a longtime supporter of Turkey Mountain and helped clear and mark some of the trails.

"We're really thankful for Tulsa to have Turkey Mountain and all the benefactors and supporters who have ponied up money to buy land to protect this area," he said.

The designation doesn't mean changes are coming anytime soon to Turkey Mountain; in fact, it's more likely to mean it will remain the wilderness it's always been.

In addition to the Turkey Mountain trails, the National Park Service says the Arkansas River Water Trail in Kansas has also been added to the system.
NPR says this trail is 192 miles long and winds its way along the Arkansas River from Great Bend, Kansas to the Kansas-Oklahoma state line.