Lost Maples State Park
Lost Maples State Park, more correctly known as Lost Maples State Natural Area, is a unique part of Texas, most notably because of the native Bigtooth Maples found growing in the area. Lost Maples State Park is about 3 hours from central Austin, and a little less than two hours from central San Antonio, Texas.
The best time of year to see the beautiful maple leaves change color is in the fall (November-ish), although the country is beautiful year round.
If you are planning to go camping at Lost Maples State Park on a weekend in November, we recommend that you make reservations the preceding January (if not earlier). We made reservations back in February and could only find weekday night availability in November. Fridays and Saturdays were booked.
The Maple Trail
If you only have time to do one small hike, the Maple Trail is the way to go. We arrived at Lost Maples on Sunday afternoon, after spending the night in Fredericksburg, Texas. The weather was beautiful - about 72 degrees and sunny. We hiked the .9 mile Maple Trail, about an hour before sunset, and saw some amazing fall colors.
The maple leaf color is the most brilliant on a sunny day. It was a sunny day when we arrived, but being late in the day, many of the trees were shadowed by the afternoon sun. Even in the shade the maples are beautiful.
We hiked the East Trail in late December last year, so we decided it was time to hike the West Trail. Both trails are about 5 miles long, rocky, and steep in a few places. We always take our time hiking the trails. We are in no hurry and don't ever want to miss any of the beauty nature has to offer.
The West Trail
We began our hike around 10:00 a.m. The sun was high in the sky and the temperature was in the low 70's. We began our hike on a one mile section of the trail where the East Trail and the West Trail overlap.
We headed up the trail towards campground "c" located along a small pond. At Lost Maples State Park, there are 30 water and electric campsites located near the park headquarters, and 8 "primitive" campgrounds located along the 12+ miles of trails. The only access to the primitive campgrounds is by foot, if you're thinking about camping at Lost Maples State Park.
The West Trail loop includes a section of trail called the Mystic Canyon. It is very well named. We stopped along that section of trail and had a picnic lunch. There is another trail that is an offshoot of the West Trail called the West Loop Trail. If you choose to include that trail, it will add 2.5 miles to your hike.
Most of the West Trail is in the middle of various creek beds. There didn't appear to be an alternate route that you could take if the creeks were ever flowing. I assume that, after a good rain, the trails would probably be closed by the Texas State Park service. However, it looks like most of the time, the creeks are dry enough to hike.
While hiking along the trails, we noticed four major leaf colors (shown above). These just indicate that the trees don't all change color at the same time. This is part of what makes visiting Lost Maples State Park such a unique experience.
After a great day of hiking, it felt good to relax by our campfire and reminisce about what we discovered. We were very lucky to have had great weather while we were visiting the park this year. The following weekend, the temperatures dropped to the low 30s with rain and sleet.
For more information, please visit the Lost Maples State Natural Area website.