Wheelchair-friendly Birding

The following information is provided for birders who use wheelchairs or need pavement to get around. The parks in the following list all have paved trails and are used by area birders:

Yukon City Park in Yukon
Eldon Lyon Park in Bethany
Mitch Park in Edmond
Bluff Creek Park below the dam at Lake Hefner
Lake Hefner Trails at the southeast corner of Stars and Stripes Park
Route 66 Park at Lake Overholser
lake access across the road Oklahoma City Zoological Park and neighboring lake
Joe B. Barnes Park in Midwest City  The spaced trees on the north side of the Joe B. Barnes Drive hold a lot of summer resident flycatchers and Bluebirds — more accessible than the south end for those who aren’t that mobile.

In addition, Martin Nature Park has trails with  compacted layers of chat that may be navigable with some help.

There is a lot of birding done around area lakes that doesn’t involve much moving around except by car. Two of the most popular are Lake Overholser and Lake Hefner.  Some details on each of these are given below:

Lake Overholser — The lake can be discussed in terms of four areas: the northeast mud flats, the cofferdam, Route 66 Park and the lakeshore access. The northeast mudflats are only exposed when the lake level has fallen significantly below maximum. A low lake level is bad for Bethany water supplies, but great for shorebirds, waders and migratory waterfowl in season. Access is from Overholser Drive on the east side of the lake near 30th St. You drive across the bridge near the Lake Patrol HQ and then drive north along the top of the levee. Our second recommended location, the cofferdam, might require assistance for most wheelchair operators, since it isn’t a paved trail. However, it is frequently mowed, and the surface is mostly hard and level except when softened by a recent rain. The parking location is south of Route 66 where County Line Rd turns into Overholser Dr. The swing gate on the east side of the road is the entrance. You must park so as not to obstruct the gate to avoid a possible ticket. The levee which runs to the east is known as the cofferdam. The marsh and wooded swamp north and the cattail marsh south both have interesting birds in most seasons. Our third recommendation is Route 66 Park, already listed above. It is located where 23rd St intersects Overholser Dr on the west side of the lake. There are sidewalks along the south shore of the ponds. A bridge over the neck between the ponds leads to a boardwalk through a small demonstration marsh. Our final recommendation is the west shoreline road all along the northern and western shore of the lake. Birders use the road during the cool seasons to observe gulls and waterfowl. In the warm seasons, it is a good spot for a Yellow-crowned Night Heron. Frequently, the best birding is on the south end where the road turns east towards the dam. Near the dam, there is a large area dedicated to soccer fields. The soccer field parking area is surrounded by large trees. This is a good birding spot. Lake Overholser is discussed in more detail under its own Hot Spots tab.

Lake Hefner — The entire lakeshore and dam, except the part dedicated to the golf course, is used by birders. However, almost all birding expeditions start with Prairie Dog Point. The closest map location is the point where Canal Rd intersects West Lake Hefner Dr on the southwest corner of the lake. There is a dirt road bordering the lake starting at the canal inlet, running north to Prairie Dog Point, and then turning west to the dam. Birders observe gulls, shorebirds, waders, and waterfowl all along the dirt road. The grass and trees on the other side of the road have interesting birds as well. There is a nice set of paved trails, called Lake Hefner Trails, at the southeast corner of Stars and Stripes Park. The park is located where Portland Ave intersects South Lake Hefner Dr. As you enter the park, turn right into the parking lot and drive all the way to the end. The trails start at that point and go either north or east. Finally, there is a park just north of the lake off of Meridian Ave called Bluff Creek Park. All the trails are paved and are good for birding. There is a small pond and wetland at the northwest corner of the park that is a jewel for birders. There is more detail on Lake Hefner under the Hot Spots tab for the lake.