Black Mesa, OK

Location: Kenton, Oklahoma
Summit elevation: 4,973 ft (1,516 m)
Distance: ~8.5 miles (13.7 km) round trip
Elevation gain: ~800 ft (243 m)
Class: 1
Date: October 11, 2011

Looking north from the trail up Black Mesa

Black Mesa is a mesa found primarily in Colorado, but also New Mexico and Oklahoma.  It reaches an elevation of 5,712 feet in Colorado, but just north of the small town of Kenton it is the highest point in Oklahoma at 4,973 feet.

The trail at the base of Black Mesa

Oklahoma's high point is located within the Black Mesa Nature Preserve and is accessed via a trailhead that is few miles north of Kenton (the high point is not within Black Mesa State Park).  The trail follows an old dirt road all the way to the summit and is completely impassible to vehicles in some sections, although you cannot take any vehicles on any part of the trail.

Looking northwest from the trail up Black Mesa

The first 2.5 miles are a flat and relatively uninteresting trail along the base of the mesa that traverses dry and sparse juniper woodland/grassland.  The next half mile ascends the mesa and provides great views of the surprising topography of the area, which includes several mesas and valleys.  The last section of the trail crosses the flat top of the mesa until it reaches the summit where a monument and bench are located.  If you hike just 300 yards south of the high point you reach the southern edge of Black Mesa and get good views of the Kenton valley.

Looking at the Black Mesa high point monument from the east

The Oklahoma high point is located in Cimarron County, which is the only county in the United States to border four states.  The high point monument gives distances to the bordering states: Kansas 53 miles ENE, Texas 31 miles S, Colorado 4.7 miles N, and New Mexico 1,299 feet W (an easy walk across the top of the mesa).

The view to the south from Black Mesa

There are not many businesses in Kenton, and the closest larger towns are Boise City, Oklahoma to the east and Clayton, New Mexico to the south-southwest.  The drive from either of these cities is unexciting and characteristic of the plains: very flat.  But just before you reach the Kenton area the topography becomes surprisingly variable.

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