Lake Hefner, Oklahoma, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - Southwest - Oklahoma - Frontier Country -

The Hefner Dam was completed in 1947, creating a lake with a surface area of 2,500 acres and an 18 mile long shoreline. Located in northwest Oklahoma City, Lake Hefner was built to increase the water supply for Oklahoma City. It was named after Robert A. Hefner, who served as the city’s mayor from 1939 to 1947. Lake Hefner has become a major recreational hot spot known for its excellent sailing, picnicking, and fishing. The lake hosts weekend sailboat races and is also known for its incredible jogging and biking trails which circle the entire lake.

Recreation is the main feature of this beautiful body of water locaed in the Frontier Country tourism region. The Lake Hefner trails take bikers, walkers or runners for a nine mile scenic journey around the lake. The trails are flat, 12 feet wide and paved. Six foot wide trails on the east side of the lake are designated for pedestrians only.

Although Lake Hefner has no lakefront residential development, there are residential areas to the north, west, and east. The Lake Hefner Dam stretches across the northern side of the lake. The Lake Hefner Parkway borders the east side of the lake. The south side is the least developed, retaining the original forest and habitat along much of the shore. The lake’s deepest point is approximately 94 feet with an average depth of 29 feet.

From April to October, the Oklahoma City Boat Club holds weekend sailboat races. The lake has docks as well as dry storage for boats. Boat permits are required. Waterskiing, jet-skiing and swimming are prohibited, but kite surfing and wind surfing are allowed. Because Lake Hefner is a water supply reservoir, there are times when the water level may be too low for pleasure boating. Marinas on the lake will post signs if this occurs.

Playgrounds and picnic areas can be found all around Lake Hefner. Fishing is a popular sport, but you must have a city fishing permit. You can fish from shore or off any public pier, many of which are covered. There is an enclosed and heated fishing dock which is a favorite spot for anglers, especially during the winter months. Fish found in Lake Hefner include largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, white bass, striped bass, black crappie, channel catfish, walleye and a few types of bluegills. The lake is stocked annually with walleye and smallmouth bass.

First time anglers should try fishing off piers or docks or from a boat. Access to Lake Hefner is limited slightly on the east side, but there is good bass fishing near the rip rap rocks and the dam. Shore access along the south part of the lake offers a good place to catch bluegills and bass. The lake has several fish attractor reefs that lure in the larger sport fish for the more experienced angler, many within casting distance from shore.

On the southeast side of Lake Hefner is the Stars and Stripes Park, home to the annual Turkey Trot Classic footrace as well as a number of other recreational events from team sports to biking. The park offers walking trails, playgrounds and of course fishing.

Of special interest to bird watchers is Prairie Dog Point, located at the southwest corner of Lake Hefner. Birders from across Oklahoma visit this location during spring and fall migration, as well as during the winter months when sightings of rare birds are often reported. The lake is also a gathering place for gulls, grebes, and ducks from fall through winter and during early spring migrations. In early fall and again in spring, gulls may number in the thousands.

Located on the southwest side of Lake Hefner, just off Northwest Expressway, the Lake Hefner Golf Course features a north and a south course. The north course is nearly 7,000 yards in total length while the south course is a bit smaller at 6,300 yards. Both of these golf courses are dotted by water hazards as well as bunkered fairways and greens. There is a driving range, putting green, restaurant, golf shop and rentals.

South of the golf course are the Oklahoma City docks, commonly known as the city-side docks, the largest marina on Lake Hefner.

On the south side of Lake Hefner is the YMCA Sailing Center which offers sailing instruction for all ages.

In the 1990s, Oklahoma City formed a partnership with a local developer to turn a portion of the east side of Lake Hefner into an upscale commercial and recreational area. This area now features restaurants, an office building, jogging path, playground, marina and a lighthouse. Probably the most well known feature on Lake Hefner is the East Wharf Lighthouse. The working lighthouse stands 40 feet tall, has a red light with a two-second on/off pattern, and is on from dusk till dawn. The lighthouse has been the backdrop for many weddings and has been featured in a number of magazines.

If you’re a dog owner, you’ll want to check out OKC PawPark which is a leashless dog park in Lake Hefner Park. The two-acre section has two fenced-in play areas, water stations, trees, benches, and lots of room for your dog to run, play and swim. Yes, it’s okay for your dog to swim in the designated area called the “Duck Pond.”

Nearby Oklahoma City, the state capital, has a number of museums, theaters, a zoo, a water park, a baseball park, and several golf courses. There is also shopping, fine dining and plenty of entertainment. You can even take a water taxi along the Bricktown Canal. The boats can be boarded to go in either direction every 10 to 15 minutes. The water taxi works like a regular taxi and will stop at any of the shops or restaurants on the canal. The most popular stop is the front door of Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World, one of the world’s largest suppliers of hunting and fishing gear.

A seven mile portion of the North Canadian River flowing through Oklahoma City was renamed the Oklahoma River in 2004. This portion has several locks that have created a series of small lakes in which rowing, kayaking, and canoeing regattas take place. 13 miles of multiuse, asphalt trails line the north and south banks of the river. Cruises take passengers the entire length of the river, one way or round trip.

With its well-maintained trails, invigorating breezes coming off the water, and plenty of fishing and boating facilities for the entire family (including Fido), Lake Hefner and nearby Oklahoma City are about as perfect as it gets for an afternoon or weekend of fun and relaxation.

Things to do at Lake Hefner

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Sailing
  • Swimming
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Jet Skiing
  • Water Skiing
  • Kite Surfing
  • Wind Surfing
  • Golf
  • Picnicking
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Hunting
  • Birding
  • Museum
  • Playground
  • Shopping

Fish species found at Lake Hefner

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Black Crappie
  • Bluegill
  • Catfish
  • Channel Catfish
  • Crappie
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Perch
  • Smallmouth Bass
  • Striped Bass
  • Walleye
  • White Bass

Lake Hefner Photo Gallery

Lake Hefner Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Artificial Reservoir, Dammed

Water Level Control: City of Oklahoma City

Surface Area: 2,500 acres

Shoreline Length: 18 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 1,199 feet

Average Depth: 29 feet

Maximum Depth: 94 feet

Water Volume: 75,000 acre-feet

Completion Year: 1947

Drainage Area: 10 sq. miles

Trophic State: Eutrophic

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Trophic State | LakeLubbers

Trophic State measures the level of algae and nutrients in a lake.

An oligotrophic lake is very clear (blue in color) and does not support much plant or fish life. A hyper-oligotrophic lake is the clearest of all lakes, and is nearly devoid of plants and fish.

A mesotrophic lake is slightly green and supports a moderate degree of plant and fish life. A lake's most desired trophic state is generally this mid-point - the mesotrophic state.

A eutrophic lake is somewhat murky and supports a large amount of plant and fish life. A hypereutrophic lake is clouded with algae, plant life, and fish life. A eutrophic or hyper-eutrophic lake can be difficult to navigate by boat - and is often an unpleasant place to swim.

The use of phosphorus-rich and nitrogen-rich fertilizer on lawns and golf courses surrounding a lake can cause it to become eutrophic or hypereutrophic.


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Catchment or Drainage Area | LakeLubbers

This is the surrounding area that drains into a lake, including land, rivers and their tributaries. This is also known as the lake's "catchment basin".

Small lakes at the highest peaks of mountains have small drainage areas. The world's oceans have the largest drainage areas.


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Lake-Area Population | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated number of people who live in a house with a view of a lake, plus those who self-describe the lake as their home, for example: "I live at Smith Mountain Lake."


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Water Residence Time | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated time that it takes for an amount of water equal to the entire volume of a lake to flow out of - or evaporate from - the lake.

Residence Time can be as short as a few days for fast-flowing small lakes, and can exceed 100 years for slow-flowing large lakes.


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Completion Year | LakeLubbers

This is the year that a reservoir was first filled to the reservoir's normal elevation - or the year that a natural lake was first dammed. A large reservoir can take more than a year to fill after its dam is first closed.

The Grand Anicut in southern India is generally considered the world's oldest dam that still operates. Grand Anicut was constructed in the second century BC. It now impounds an irrigation network that includes roughly one million acres.

You can find many of the the world's newest reservoirs on LakeLubbers. Many of the world's oldest reservoirs appear on the last page of that list.


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Water Volume | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated volume of water that a lake contains -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. By this measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal.

You can find many of the the world's largest lakes (by water volume) on LakeLubbers.

Water Volume can be measured in acre-feet, in cubic miles, or in cubic kilometers. One acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover one acre (43,560 square feet) to a depth of one foot. One cubic mile equals 3,379,200 acre-feet. One cubic kilometer equals 810,713 acre-feet.

1 acre-foot is equal to 325,851 US gallons. Siberia's Lake Baikal contains about 6,276,367,740,000,000 gallons of freshwater - nearly 1 million gallons for every living person on earth.

The other - and more widely used - measure of a lake's size is the lake's surface acreage. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is North America's Lake Superior.


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Maximum Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated greatest depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. The world's deepest lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal; that lake's maximum depth is estimated at 5,314 feet.

You can find many of the the world's deepest lakes on LakeLubbers. If you select the last page of that list, you will find the (maximum depth of) the shallowest lakes in our database.


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Average Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated average depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. If the water volume and surface area of a lake are known, an estimate of the lake's average depth can be calculated:

Water volume ÷ Surface Area = Average Depth

Example: 1,000,000 acre-feet ÷ 20,000 acres = 50 feet average depth


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Maximum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's highest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can occur during flooding. A lake's highest possible maximum elevation is usually the top of the lake's dam or spillway.

At lakes that include residential development, government regulations usually forbid the construction of homes below a lake's maximum elevation.


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Minimum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's lowest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can be reasonably expected to occur. Low lake levels can occur due to deliberate seasonal draw downs for irrigation or impending snow melt, reduced water inflows, drought and evaporation, residential or commercial water demands, and hydropower generation.

Some lakes' minimum and maximum elevations are virtually the same. Lakes that generate hydropower may vary by several feet - according to power demand. Lakes whose primary purpose is to prevent flooding can seasonally vary by 100 feet or more.

When some lakes reach their minimum elevation, their boat ramps may not be long enough to permit boat access - and boats docked on shallow parts of the lake may end up on dry ground. In those cases, kayakers and shore-based anglers may be among the few happy recreational users of the lake.


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Normal Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's normal water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level. For a reservoir, this water level is also known as "full pond" or "full pool".

You can find many of the world's highest-elevated lakes on LakeLubbers. Lakes with the lowest elevations (known by LakeLubbers) are shown on the final page of that list.


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Shoreline Length | LakeLubbers

This is the length of the exterior shoreline around a lake - measured at the lake's normal elevation. The shoreline length can be considerably shorter or longer when lake water levels are lower or higher than normal.

A lake with many coves has a much longer shoreline than a lake of similar surface area that is nearly circular in shape.

When known, the shoreline miles that we report in our statistics include only the lake's exterior shoreline, and exclude the shorelines of islands located within a lake's boundaries. In lakes with many islands, those islands' combined shorelines may exceed a lake's exterior shoreline.

You can find many of the world's longest-shoreline lakes on Lakelubbers.


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Surface Area | LakeLubbers

This is the area (acreage, square kilometers, etc.) of the top surface area of a lake - measured at a lake's normal elevation. The surface area can be considerably smaller or larger when lake levels are lower or higher than normal. North America's Lake Superior is the world's largest freshwater lake by this measure.

The other measure of a lake's size is the lake's water volume. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Lake Baikal in Siberia.

You can find many of the world's largest lakes (acres) on Lakelubbers. There is no widely-accepted minimum surface area that defines a lake. What Lakelubbers describes as a lake, you might call a pond. The smallest lake that Lakelubbers currently includes is Hawaii's 2-acre Lake Waiau.


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Water Level Control | LakeLubbers

This is the organization that controls water releases or outflows from the lake or reservoir. In the USA, this is often the US Army Corps of Engineers, a power company, a municipal water system, an irrigation district, or a paper manufacturing company. In the case of private or gated lakes, a homeowners' association may be the lake's controlling authority.

Many lakes cross borders, including North America's Great Lakes. The control of such lakes and their coveted freshwater may be amicably shared - or hotly disputed.

"Water wars" continue at many lakes as growing populations and crop irrigation needs compete for the freshwater that lakes contain.


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Lake Type | LakeLubbers

There are 3 basic types of lakes that are currently included on LakeLubbers. 2 types may be dammed or not dammed, producing 5 classifications.

- A Reservoir is a man-made freshwater lake that is usually created by damming rivers.

- A Natural Freshwater Lake occurs naturally - often by glacial activity - and has a salinity of less than 30 parts per thousand. It may be dammed to produce electricity or for other reasons.

- A Natural Saltwater Lake occurs naturally and has a salinity of more than 30 parts per thousand (ppt). It may be dammed.

"Brackish" water may be categorized as freshwater or saltwater, depending on its salt content (salinity). Oligohaline water has less than 15 ppt of salt. Mesohaline water has 15-29 ppt. Polyhaline has 30-335 ppt.


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