The Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge is a wonderful place for an adventure. With roaming longhorns and buffalo, cities of Prairie Dogs and plenty of outdoor recreation you can find many things to do when visiting the preserve. Amongst those the Tower Trail Hike, a 1.1 mile out and back lightly trafficked hike to a viewpoint of Lake Jed Johnson.
Considered to be an easy trail there is only slight elevation change of approximately 62 feet within this hike. This hike is not considered to be ADA accessible however.
As you ascend toward the tower you will wind through various stages of vegetation and along both flat and uneven paths. Some rocky areas will provide a bit of a challenge for balance, but nothing which can’t be easily be navigated with a little attention to foot placement.
Once the ascent to the top has been made a stunning view of the waters below can be seen from 3 sides of the tower base.
The tower itself was constructed in 1941 by the Civilian Conservation Corps to serve as an observation tower. Over the years the exact reason for the tower to be closed is somewhat of a mystery. Some link this to falling into disrepair while others allude to a more sinister reasoning.
It is rumored that the tower is haunted…. Yep haunted!!!
Stories have varied about this rumor of course with some saying they have heard footsteps ascending the stone steps after dark and even hearing a woman scream. Others merely tell stories that people would attempt to climb and leap off of the tower to their deaths and because of this concern it was closed.
No official statement can be found anywhere in the park or online about the closure, however with its remote access, it is assumed more highly that it is the lack of being able to repair or patrol it regularly.
In addition, the tower is very close to the border of the military base, so that might have something to do with it.
The overall hike take about an hour round trip and is beautiful to explore at any time. Most notably people enjoy hiking this during the morning or evening to catch the sunrises and sets over the waterway.
For those not able to take the entire hike a view of the tower can be found just a short distance in from the parking area. There is a beautiful viewpoint of the tower along this trail at the shoreline which provides a magnificent vantage point of the rise of the tower from the mountain.
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