Turner Falls

Davis / Ardmore / Pauls Valley / Arbuckle Mountains, Oklahoma, USA

About Turner Falls


Hiking Distance: 1/2-mile round trip
Suggested Time: 30 minutes

Date first visited: 2016-03-18
Date last visited: 2016-03-18

Waterfall Latitude: 34.42572
Waterfall Longitude: -97.14794

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Turner Falls was perhaps Oklahoma’s most scenic waterfall as well as its largest.

It was where Honey Creek fell some 77ft over a series of travertine cliffs giving the falls a bit of a lacy appearance.

Turner_Falls_079_03182016 - Turner Falls
Turner Falls

Its cumulative height was said to be the state’s second tallest waterfall though its reported height figure was behind that of Natural Falls (if it happens to be flowing).

Further upstream of the main waterfall, there was an attractive series of cascades called the Bridal Veil Falls.

There was also a natural arch in the cliffs above the main waterfall’s plunge.

In addition to its scenic qualities, Julie and I felt this waterfall stood out to us because its existence defied our expectation that the area was mostly plains and farmland.

Turner_Falls_063_03182016 - Angled view of the Turner Falls and the intriguing travertine cliffs surrounding it
Angled view of the Turner Falls and the intriguing travertine cliffs surrounding it

Indeed, we didn’t realize that the presence of the Arbuckle Mountains of south central Oklahoma kind of created enough of that geological diversity needed to have a natural attraction like this.

Julie and I were first made aware of the Turner Falls when my mother made a visit here during a business trip several years ago.

Ever since then, we were looking for excuses to go to this part of the country as an opportunity to visit the falls.

Experiencing Turner Falls

We managed to experience Turner Falls in a couple of different ways – one from a distant overlook (outside of Turner Falls Park) and another from up close on a hike.

The Turner Falls Park itself was pretty built-up with lots of facilities including restaurants, shops, a water park, and cabins for overnighting.

Turner_Falls_160_03182016 - This would typically be the main parking lot for the Turner Falls, but on the day of our visit, it was off limits so we had to continue driving up the hill and do a little more hiking than what would typically be required
This would typically be the main parking lot for the Turner Falls, but on the day of our visit, it was off limits so we had to continue driving up the hill and do a little more hiking than what would typically be required

So making a visit to the main waterfall would typically be very short and easy as it would involve walking on a flat paved road alongside the creek.

However, our visit happened to be just after the passing of some pretty severe thunderstorms, which swelled up Honey Creek and caused the closure of that easiest route to the base of the main falls.

So we ended up driving up a hill to a different parking lot at a picnic area close to the Turner Cabins as well as the large parking area near the Bridal Veil Falls walk.

We can describe the trail from this perspective since that was how we ended up doing it, but I’m aware that this would be a bit more extended than a more typical, shorter visit.

Hiking to the front of Turner Falls

Turner_Falls_146_03182016 - The castle that we had passed through to get from the top of the hill to the base of Turner Falls
The castle that we had passed through to get from the top of the hill to the base of Turner Falls

From that picnic area where we ended up parking at (see directions below), we then walked down a rocky route to some castle.

It wasn’t clear to us what the significance of this castle was, but the path went right through the structure.

Then, the trail descended several stairs before reaching the flat road alongside Honey Creek at the bottom.

This flat road was where the parking lot was supposed to be.

Anyways, once at the bottom, we followed the road upstream, where a trail branched off before a concrete ford.

Turner_Falls_056_03182016 - After descending past the castle, we then followed this walkway alongside Honey Creek towards Turner Falls
After descending past the castle, we then followed this walkway alongside Honey Creek towards Turner Falls

Taking that trail, we then followed alongside some cliffs before ultimately reaching a bridge right across from the plunge pool at Turner Falls.

From the bridge and the unbridged shores on either side of the falls, we were able to view Turner Falls from almost all possible angles.

On the far side of the bridge, there was a building (selling refreshments, perhaps), which I’d imagine would be busy in the Summer months.

Given the fairly turbulent and unstable weather during our visit, the colors of the algae growing on the travertine as well as the colors within the cliffs themselves didn’t really come out.

Turner_Falls_105_03182016 - Looking across the travertine base of Turner Falls
Looking across the travertine base of Turner Falls

The color of the water also didn’t come out as Honey Creek was mostly a greenish-brown with storm runoff and some small amounts of litter.

I’m sure under sunnier conditions (like when my Mom made her visit a few years back), Turner Falls would be much more photogenic.

Anyways, we wound up spending less than an hour away from the car, but that included walking the trail through the castle as well as spending lots of time at the Turner Falls itself.

The difficulty rating would have been a 1 had that easier main trail been open, but we had to bump up the difficulty since we didn’t visit the falls in that easier manner.

Optional Hike to the Natural Arch and Bridal Veil Falls

Turner_Falls_028_03182016 - Looking down at the context of Honey Creek where it tumbled over the Bridal Veil Falls further upstream from the Turner Falls
Looking down at the context of Honey Creek where it tumbled over the Bridal Veil Falls further upstream from the Turner Falls

Back at the picnic area at the top of the hill where we started the hike, there was also a larger parking lot almost adjacent to it.

From that lot, there was a well-signed trail that descended from the end of the parking area to a couple of views of Bridal Veil Falls as well as closer access to a natural arch.

I thought the natural arch was down below the lookout at the end of the trail besides Honey Creek.

However, it turned out that the arch was actually to the left of the trail near the top of the cliff (it was also visible from the bridge before Turner Falls down below).

Turner_Falls_128_03182016 - Looking high up towards a natural arch, which we spotted from the bottom of Turner Falls, but we somehow didn't notice it on the trail that supposed went to it!
Looking high up towards a natural arch, which we spotted from the bottom of Turner Falls, but we somehow didn’t notice it on the trail that supposed went to it!

This side excursion only took a few minutes, but it was very muddy and slippery thanks to the storms that had passed through earlier.

Viewing Turner Falls from the Overlook outside of Turner Falls Park

Finally, there was a different way to experience Turner Falls, but it wasn’t from within the Turner Falls Park.

Indeed, there was a distant overlook allowing us to get a birds eye view of most of the park.

This overlook sat near a curio shop that we passed by on the way to the Turner Falls park (which we’ll describe how to get there in the directions).

Turner_Falls_207_03182016 - Looking down at the context of the entirety of the Turner Falls Park from the overlook by the curio shop on the way to the park entrance
Looking down at the context of the entirety of the Turner Falls Park from the overlook by the curio shop on the way to the park entrance

There were a couple of lookout platforms (with coin-op telescopes) from which we were able to see the waterfall, the castle, and some wind farms in the distance.

Authorities

Turner Falls resides in the Turner Falls Park near Ardmore in Murray County, Oklahoma. It is administered by the Turner Falls Park. For information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, visit their website.

Turner_Falls_001_03182016 - This was the view from within our car as we approached the first concrete ford within Turner Falls Park
Turner_Falls_002_03182016 - This was the second concrete ford, which was much tamer than the first one in Turner Falls Park
Turner_Falls_003_03182016 - We first made our way up to the parking lot for the Bridal Veil Falls and Natural Arch
Turner_Falls_005_03182016 - The path to Bridal Veil Falls Overlook went down these steps first
Turner_Falls_006_03182016 - The path on the right went to an unbarricaded and rough view of Bridal Veil Falls while the path on the left went to a more established lookout as well as continuing the access to the Natural Arch Rock
Turner_Falls_007_03182016 - Rough partial look towards the Bridal Veil Falls on the way to the end of the path on the right fork
Turner_Falls_008_03182016 - This was the view of Bridal Veil Falls from the end of the trail of the fork on the right
Turner_Falls_014_03182016 - This was the view of Bridal Veil Falls from the fork on the left
Turner_Falls_015_03182016 - Now descending the trail leading to the Natural Arch Rock
Turner_Falls_016_03182016 - Descending to the end of the trail for the Natural Arch Rock though I honestly couldn't tell if we saw it from this spot or not
Turner_Falls_021_03182016 - I had thought the protruding rock down below was the Natural Arch, but little did I realize that the arch was actually to my left at the top of the cliff!
Turner_Falls_037_03182016 - Julie and Tahia making their way back to the parking lot at the top after having had their fill of the Natural Arch Rock and the Bridal Veil Falls views
Turner_Falls_042_03182016 - This was the picnic area where we started the downhill hike past a castle and towards the Turner Falls
Turner_Falls_043_03182016 - From the picnic area, we followed the sign towards the castle and ultimately the Turner Falls
Turner_Falls_045_03182016 - Descending towards the castle on the way to the Turner Falls
Turner_Falls_047_03182016 - Continuing the descent as we walked through the castle and down to the road (closed during our visit) leading to the main Turner Falls area
Turner_Falls_049_03182016 - Closer look at a different part of the castle that we saw on the way down to the Turner Falls
Turner_Falls_052_03182016 - Looking back up at the steps that we descended beneath the castle on the way to the Turner Falls
Turner_Falls_054_03182016 - Once we were past the castle and back on the main access route, we then left the road before this concrete ford and onto the remainder of the foot trail leading up to Turner Falls
Turner_Falls_058_03182016 - Approaching the Turner Falls and the bridge fronting it, which allowed us to view the falls from a variety of angles
Turner_Falls_061_03182016 - At first we walked all the way across the bridge and got these angled looks towards the Turner Falls backed by its intriguing travertine cliffs
Turner_Falls_067_03182016 - Looking back at the bridge I had crossed to get across Honey Creek in front of Turner Falls
Turner_Falls_070_03182016 - Contextual view of Turner Falls from the bridge over Honey Creek
Turner_Falls_077_03182016 - Looking downstream from the bridge over Honey Creek while we were checking out Turner Falls
Turner_Falls_082_03182016 - Direct view of Turner Falls from the middle of the bridge over Honey Creek
Turner_Falls_093_03182016 - Angled look back towards Turner Falls from the bridge over Honey Creek
Turner_Falls_094_03182016 - Another broad look back towards Turner Falls from the front part of the Honey Creek Bridge
Turner_Falls_131_03182016 - Tahia checking out Turner Falls from the bridge over Honey Creek
Turner_Falls_139_03182016 - Julie and Tahia heading back from Turner Falls after having had their fill of this place
Turner_Falls_142_03182016 - Looking back at a lot of people showing up to Turner Falls after we were done with our visit
Turner_Falls_145_03182016 - After having our fill of Turner Falls, we then headed back up through the castle and back to the rough picnic area where we parked
Turner_Falls_151_03182016 - Tahia going up the steps leading to the castle on the way back up to the parking area at the top of the hill after having had our fill of Turner Falls
Turner_Falls_156_03182016 - Tahia returning to the rough parking lot at a picnic area at the top of the hill in the Turner Falls Park
Turner_Falls_166_03182016 - Looking downstream over some mini-cascades with what appeared to be more walkways on the other side of Honey Creek, which we didn't get to explore on this visit
Turner_Falls_168_03182016 - Looking further downstream from the concrete fords, it looked like there was a water park in Turner Falls Park, which would have been great for Tahia in the Summer
Turner_Falls_178_03182016 - Just after leaving Turner Falls Park and just before returning to the interstate, we stopped by the curio shop to get our last looks at the Turner Falls Park
Turner_Falls_180_03182016 - More focused top down look at the Turner Falls and hints of the Bridal Veil Falls further upstream
Turner_Falls_182_03182016 - Julie checking out the overlook of Turner Falls Park near the curio shop
Turner_Falls_188_03182016 - Another look down at the Turner Falls and bridge from the lookout at the curio shop
Turner_Falls_194_03182016 - Another look at the Turner Falls from the overlook at the curio shop
Turner_Falls_202_03182016 - This was perhaps the most comprehensive view of Turner Falls Park that I could get from the overlook at the curio shop, where I was able to see both the waterfall and castle as well as most of the walkway alongside Honey Creek in one shot
Turner_Falls_218_03182016 - Last look at Turner Falls from the overlook by the curio shop

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We made our visit to Turner Falls from Ardmore so we’ll describe our driving route from there.

It was also possible to drive south from Paul’s Valley as well.

Turner_Falls_204_03182016 - Context of the curio shop where we got a real nice overlook of the entirety of the Turner Falls Park
Context of the curio shop where we got a real nice overlook of the entirety of the Turner Falls Park

Either way, the park was not far off from the I-35 and the route was well signposted from off the interstate.

So we’ll just focus on the approach from Ardmore since that was how we did it.

From Ardmore, we headed north on the I-35 for nearly 14 miles.

We then took the exit 47 towards the Hwy 77 (which a brown sign for the Turner Falls Park directed us to do).

Turner_Falls_191_03182016 - Looking down at the context of the Turner Falls from the overlook by a curio shop seen on the way to the Turner Falls Park
Looking down at the context of the Turner Falls from the overlook by a curio shop seen on the way to the Turner Falls Park

Next, we turned left to go onto Hwy 77, and we followed this road for about 3 miles to the entrance for the park after a sharp left turn.

Note that at 2.2 miles from the I-35 off-ramp we took, there was a curio shop with a parking lot, and this was where the distant overlook of Turner Falls was at.

We then proceeded to drive into the Turner Falls Park, where there were kiosks to collect the entrance fee.

We wound up paying $4 per adult plus tax ($8.76 total since Tahia was free) during our March 2016 visit, which turned out to be their Winter rates.

Turner_Falls_164_03182016 - Looking back at the entrance kiosk for the Turner Falls Park
Looking back at the entrance kiosk for the Turner Falls Park

Apparently in the Summer time, the rates jack up to $12 per adult probably because swimming would be allowed and the weather would likely cooperate a bit more than it did for us.

Once we got past the gate, we drove past the park headquarters (where there was also some restaurant across the road) before going beneath an archway.

On the other side of it, there was the first of two concrete fords.

The first one was a bit scary due to fairly high water going over the ford.

Turner_Falls_172_03182016 - Looking back at the first of the concrete fords within Turner Falls Park on the way to the Turner Falls parking lots
Looking back at the first of the concrete fords within Turner Falls Park on the way to the Turner Falls parking lots

However, we were still able to get through in our passenger car (though I’d imagine they’d close the park or make you walk across the neighboring bridge if this was impassable).

Shortly thereafter, there was another concrete ford that seemed less severe than the first.

After that second ford, there was a nearby parking lot to our right, which I’d imagine would be where we could’ve parked and walked along the main walkway besides Honey Creek up to Turner Falls.

However, since the main access was closed, we had to continue driving up the hill to the right of the main access and we wound up accessing a picnic area.

Turner_Falls_039_03182016 - This was the large parking lot at the trailhead for the Bridal Veil Falls, the Natural Arch Rock, and some caves further uphill and upstream from the Turner Falls
This was the large parking lot at the trailhead for the Bridal Veil Falls, the Natural Arch Rock, and some caves further uphill and upstream from the Turner Falls

At this picnic area, there were parking spaces on a rough unpaved area (i.e. rocky and potentially requiring high clearance vehicles).

There was also another large parking lot closer to the Turner Cabins as well as the trailhead for the Bridal Veil Falls and Natural Arch Rock.

The walk to Turner Falls via the castle began from that picnic area with the rough parking spots.

Overall, this drive took us just under 30 minutes.

Turner_Falls_173_03182016 - The signs near the entrance for the Turner Falls Park
The signs near the entrance for the Turner Falls Park

For some context, Dallas, Texas was about 2 hours further south of the Turner Falls. Meanwhile, Oklahoma City was about a 90-minute drive to the north.

Movie going from one side of the bridge of the Turner Falls area to the other side while revealing the different angles of the falls as well as the surrounding area


Movie going from one lookout to a more formal one around the so-called Bridal Veil Falls area of Turner Falls


Sweep from one of the Turner Falls overlook viewing areas revealing the context of the castle as well as the short walks to get right up to the main waterfall area and bridge

Tagged with: davis, ardmore, pauls valley, arbuckle, murray county, oklahoma, waterfall



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Visitor Reviews of this Waterfall:

Turner Falls – Davis, Oklahoma August 7, 2010 4:32 pm by Jenny - Here are the pictures I took of Turner Falls. This is the highest spot in Oklahoma. It is very beautiful but there were lots of visitors. The weather was hot and had been over 100-103 degree. Directions: From Dallas continue North on I-35 and take Exit #47 for Turner Falls Park. From Oklahoma City continue… ...Read More

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Johnny Cheng

About Johnny Cheng

Johnny Cheng is the founder of the World of Waterfalls and author of A Guide to New Zealand Waterfalls. Over the last 2 decades, he has visited thousands of waterfalls in over 40 countries around the world and nearly 40 states in the USA.
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