Day Trips: Lost Maples State Natural Area, Vanderpool

Lost Maples shows its true colors


Photos by Gerald E. McLeod

Lost Maples State Natural Area is a beautiful place to wander the trails anytime of the year, but it explodes in color in the fall. 

It's the brilliant red, orange, and yellow leaves of an isolated pocket of bigtooth maple trees during the few weeks of autumn that the leaf peepers come to see. In concert with the maples, the oaks, elms, and sycamores add depth to the color palette. The shallow pools of the Sabinal River, which runs through the park, provide a mirror to double the beauty.


Depending on the weather, the fall foliage begins its show in mid-October and runs through November. Texas Parks & Wildlife requires visitors to have reservations for day-use passes and camping, and slots are filling up quickly especially for weekends. To see a weekly leaf report, go to www.tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/lost-maples or call 830/966-3413, ext. 3.

At 2,174 acres, the park is relatively small but makes up for its size with its beauty. The more than 10 miles of hiking trails follow the river through a limestone canyon. The trails are moderately rugged with lots of ups and downs and river crossings. The main campground has 30 sites in a grove of trees with water and electricity hookups for tent and RV campers. Backwoods campers hike into one of the eight primitive camping areas sprinkled around the park. 


Lost Maples State Natural Area is five miles north of Vanderpool, a one-store town on scenic FM 337. A good three hours from Austin, the park is in an area with little to no cell phone service. The best time to visit is on a weekday after a cold front rolls through the area. 


1,521st in a series. Follow “Day Trips & Beyond,” a travel blog, at austinchronicle.com/daily/travel.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Lost Maples State Natural Area, Vanderpool, Sabinal River, Texas Parks & Wildlife, camping, hiking

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