Distance: Main trail is approximately 1.2 miles (1.9 km) roundtrip
Average Time: Main trail/approximately 1 hour
Difficulty: Very easy/ main and secondary trails surfaces are hardpacked soil, with some natural forest litter (limbs and leaves) on the secondary trails
Starting Point: Travertine Nature Center
Antelope and Buffalo Springs trail is one of the more commonly hiked trails in Chickasaw National Recreation Area. A leisurely walk on the main trail to the east will let you enjoy various shrubs, hardwood trees, vines, grasses, and flowers in season. Along the way, you will find benches to relax and enjoy nature's many sights and sounds. The path follows the meandering Travertine Creek, which is fed by Antelope and Buffalo Springs. Normally water flows from these two springs at a rate of approximately 5 million gallons of water daily. Due to occasional severe drought conditions, the Travertine Creek bed is sometimes dry.
The main trail to Antelope and Buffalo Springs is wheelchair accessible with assistance, but the side trails are not accessible.
The following are descriptions of the three side trails you will encounter along the main access trail:
Prairie Loop Trail: This pleasant trail is approximately 0.6 miles in length. Where the trail leads across Travertine Creek you will see green reed-like plants that are often mistaken for bamboo. This plant is commonly known as horsetail or scouring rush. After crossing the creek, the trail forks. The left trail will take you up a limestone slope covered with cedar and oaks. You will pass by small openings of what once was vast mixed grass prairies, but now the dominant vegetation is cedar and several hardwoods. As you come to the top of the slope, you will see in season cone flowers, prickly pear, yucca, and primroses. As you finish the loop, you will return to the starting point at the main trail.
Tall Oaks Loop Trail: This trail is a 0.5 miles (0.8 km) long and crosses Travertine Creek. The right hand fork in the trail leads you through the thick stand of cedars. The trail then will drop down and cross a normally dry stream bed. You will now find yourself in a stand of tall oaks, sycamore, elm, hackberry, and other hardwoods. The trail will lead you along the Travertine Creek and back to your starting point.
Dry Creek Loop Trail: This trail is the longest of the side trails at approximately 1.8 miles (2.9 km) in length. East of Buffalo Springs, where the Civilian Conservation Corps constructed a rock bridge across a creek, a side trail circles through the cedar, hardwoods, and crosses gentle slopes of limestone.
As you walk along, you will see patches of mixed grass prairie, which is being invaded by the hardy cedar. As you complete the loop, the trail will bring you back to the old rock bridge and to the main trail.