The Austin Chronicle

Day Trips

Bastrop State Park is planning a soft reopening on Dec. 1

By Gerald E. McLeod, October 28, 2011, Columns

Bastrop State Park is planning a soft reopening on Dec. 1. It will be generations before the pocket of Lost Pines 30 minutes east of Austin recovers.

The wind-driven blaze east of Bastrop on Labor Day weekend burned 50 square miles and destroyed nearly 1,600 homes. Around the state, 311 wildfires burned that same day encouraged by a summer of extreme drought and heat. Part of the damage included 95% of the heavily wooded 5,926-acre Bastrop State Park.

The Civil Conservation Corps built Bastrop as a flagship park between 1933 and 1939 beginning with 753 acres of overcut pine forest. Large areas of trees they planted were destroyed. Only two of the Depression-era buildings were damaged by the fire. The 14 rock cabins were saved.

Parts of the park were incinerated down to the mat of rust-colored pine needles while other sections went unscathed. "It will be a completely different park than what people are used to," says Todd McClanahan, park superintendent. By spring he will know better the damage done by fire and drought.

The top priorities are removing dead trees and controlling erosion. The golf course is still open, although the pro shop has moved to a temporary building. The adjoining Buescher State Park was relatively unscorched and is still open. To find out how you can help, go to

1,059th in a series. Collect them all. Day Trips, Vol. 2, a book of "Day Trips," is available for $8.95, plus $3.05 for shipping, handling, and tax. Mail to: Day Trips, PO Box 33284, South Austin, TX 78704.

Copyright © 2022 Austin Chronicle Corporation. All rights reserved.