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Nurture in Nature
Greenleaf State Park is a small enclave of adventure tucked into the woods of northeastern Oklahoma.
By Karlie Ybarra
Published September/October 2017
In an age when screens dominate just about every aspect of life, Greenleaf State Park outside Braggs offers a refuge where it’s possible to shut out the digital distractions and experience the subtle splendor of nature.
“You’ve heard of No Child Left Behind,” says Diane Rutland, retired front desk manager and volunteer. “I always like to say, ‘no child left indoors.’”
Families can play miniature golf, volleyball, basketball, or baseball; swim in the pool; or fish in the children’s pond, from the heated indoor dock, or on a rented paddleboat or canoe. Eighteen miles of trails allow visitors to wander through sun-dappled tree groves, take photos crossing the swinging rope bridge, or interact with some local wildlife.
“When you drive into the entrance to the park, the first thing you might see are deer and wild turkeys,” Rutland says. “Not too well-known is the fact that the park has goats now that eat the grass around the lagoon.”
After working at Greenleaf for about two years, assistant park manager Joseph Hahn has seen wintering eagles, raccoons, hogs, and all manner of songbirds, but some wild encounters stand out in his memory.
“Almost every morning on my way to work, I see four does crossing the road heading into the park,” he says. “They don’t normally pay me any attention; however, a few days ago, one of the does stopped on the road and looked back, and two very young fawns came out of the woods. They were playing together, jumping around, and chasing each other. The doe almost made me fall over as she was showing me the new additions.”
It’s the quiet moments, free of the beeps and the rushing and the glare of modernity, that make Greenleaf State Park a place where both man and beast can find peace, if only for a little while.
Greenleaf State Park, 12022 Greenleaf Road in Braggs, (918) 487-5196 or TravelOK.com/state-parks.