Located about 3-4 hours from DFW, Broken Bow Oklahoma has become a busy playground for people from the Metroplex. A beautiful lake, rolling foothills of the Ouachita Mountains and surrounded by the Ouachita National Forest, it’s a beautiful place to get away in nature. Add to that a cute little town in Hochatown, with shops, winery, several dining options and tons of short-term rental cabins with austere views, and it’s easy to see why! Broken Bow, which refers to the lake and the tailwaters of the Lower Mountain Fork River, and not necessarily the town, which is about 10 miles south. It’s also the home of Beavers Bend State Park Resort, which offers camping, cabins, a golf course, hiking trails, kayak rentals, horseback riding, a heritage center museum, and even a little train tour. It’s really a great getaway for families, couples and Girls Weekends!
My youngest son’s Boy Scout Troop had planned an overnight backpacking trip on the Skyline Trail, a rugged, strenuous trail with overnight camping sites and amazing views. It’s about 10-12 miles long, depending on where to start and end, as it doesn’t make a complete loop.
I’m more of a 3-mile and a nap hiker, and we’ve hiked it before as a family, so I offered to stay behind on this one. I’ve also still not really tried out my new Tenkara fly fishing rod, and thought this would be a great chance to since Mountain Fork is stocked with rainbow trout.
The Troop booked at Broken Bow State Park on Friday night, at Dogwood Campground, which sits right along the river. The Skyline Trailhead is located in the campground as well. Booking the campsite was a breeze, but their online parking system in the park is not very user friendly. A blessing and a curse, you don’t pay as you enter the park, but use an online parking app, $10/car for every 24 hours you are in the park, which stops the long lines when entering but we had to learn how to book the parking for numerous cars in advance since they were camping on the mountain.
My husband and I originally wanted to camp with the troop, then as the weather forecast kept going down, I think it was low 30’s on Friday night, he began talking about a cabin. When one of his clients mentioned that he would like to learn how to fly fish, and we shifted gears into a weekend fly-fishing trip. I booked an AirBNB cabin, The Wine Down Cabin, which doesn’t allow commercial photography but you can click on the link to see pictures. Upon arriving at the cabin, we did give the owners a little surprise while checking in, as they were expecting us on Saturday. It seems I mixed up my dates while booking, but they were great to let me change the reservation since it wasn’t booked that night!
Saturday morning while the Boy Scout Troop was getting on the trail, I headed to the State Park office, which was about 2 miles down the road to register them as hiking on the trail. There’s no fee to camp at the campsite, just the parking fee for their cars, but the park likes to have all hikers register, especially if they are camping, in case of an emergency. There’s also a park store, so I picked up a few new stickers, as well. The Heritage Museum is also located here.
We headed to town for breakfast, and tried a place new to us, Shady Oaks on Hwy 259, and it was delicious. My husband and I split the chicken fried steak and eggs and talked about them the rest of the trip. While eating, we made sure that our two guest had their Oklahoma fishing license and discussed our plans for the day.
Since the now empty Troop’s campsites were still booked until 2pm, we headed there to start fishing. Geared out in waders and boots, it was a little harder for me to get down the steep bank, so I walked down closer to the Beavers Bend Fly Shop, entering from the opposite bank. After a few hours of me looking like an idiot to cars driving by, flailing my too long a line in the wind, I packed up and headed to the fly-fishing shop, where the guys were already, and still nice enough to admit to knowing me. I love the idea of the Tenkara, and absolutely not giving up, but it is harder than a fly-fishing rod and reel.
The Beavers Bend Fly Fishing Shop is a must for us each time we visit, fishing or not. We’ve not done it yet, but I always want to use their guide service to teach us where the best places are to fish. A guide is a great way to learn to fly-fish, in lieu of taking classes, and you stand a better chance of catching a fish than in a parking lot. However, if you want to learn and don’t already have the fly-fishing gear, I’d recommend Tailwaters Fly Fishing Store in Dallas, which offers complementary fly-fishing classes with the purchase of a Redington Field Kit from them, which will set you back about $400. They offer kits and classes for trout, bass and salt water.
After another unsuccessful attempt at catching anything but taking off a lot of the leader line on my Tenkara and changing my fly a bit, we headed up to the Friends Trail Trailhead, what is definitely one of the most scenic places in Broken Bow. For me, it was where I lost several flies, even one in a little tree as I continued to overcome my learning curve on the Tenkara. I know they were biting as I watched a guy downriver of us pulling them in relentlessly. But that’s why it’s called fishing and not catching, and I still can’t think of anyplace I’d have rather been.
Exhausted after fighting the river current all day, which is a workout, we headed to town. Oklahoma has a weird obsession with Big Foot, and you’ll see this all over Broken Bow. One example is Sasquatch’s Candy Din, a fun little candy shop we stopped at, and I bought a pack of the Jelly Belly jellybeans that taste like jalapeno, serano, habanero and other hot peppers for my son.
Then we enjoyed dinner and a little bowling at Gutter Chaos. I love this place and was so excited that we had a short wait for a lane! Dinner was surprisingly good, and the service was amazing! The four of us split the trash can nachos on fries, and my husband had the wings and I had a salad, and our name was called for the lane right before the entrees arrived. It’s hard to eat wings and then pick up a bowling ball, so most of the food went in a to-go box to be eaten later.
Later for us meant while sitting out in the hot tub at the cabin after the other guys had gone to bed. We got a short text from my son, camping on the trail. It feels good to know they have cell service, even if he’s not supposed to be on his phone on Scout campouts. It’s good for them unplug on these weekends, and he always comes back happy and talkative about his weekend! The hot tub felt great, we had a beautiful night sky and it was just chilly enough to need to run inside the cabin once we got out. I really enjoyed the cabin, and hope to come back. It has a very steep driveway, but that climb offers a beautiful view on the front deck, also!
Sunday morning, we checked out of the cabin after a quick, dry breakfast and headed back fishing for a few hours. We tried a new location for us, still in the park but just a little dirt road off Beavers Bend Road, across from the Hickory Circle campsites. Under the bridge they were catching them, and while I stood knee deep in the rushing water all morning, they still eluded me. However, about the last hour I feel like I really, finally got the hang of my new rod! I also really like this fishing spot and will probably try to book Hickory Circle next time we camp at Beavers Bend!
The Boy Scout Troop hiked off the trail and headed in town to Grateful Head Pizza for lunch while I was still out in the middle of river, but I was glad they got down safely. Grateful Head is a delicious pizza place, with locations in Hocatown and Hot Springs, Arkansas.
After two recommendations, we headed to HocaHut for our last meal in Broken Bow. HocaHut is really a food trailer with an add on, serving corn dogs which they claim were rated 6th best in the country by whoever goes around rating corn dogs. There was a line already of about 6 ahead of us, but I did hear that during the Summer it’s longer. We placed our order, grabbed a table for the guys and I found my way to one of the hammocks for a quick nap before they called our name. My ability to fall asleep pretty much instantly anywhere, except at home in my own bed, is one of my favorite and most frustrating qualities of myself. The corndogs were great, especially the sausage corndog, and we all split an order of the fried oreos, something I’d normally shy away from, but I could have eaten an order by myself!
All in all, fishing aside, it was a terrific fishing trip! The best thing about not catching any fish is it definitely gives you a reason to come back, and I’m always ready to come back to Broken Bow!
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