In Texas there tends to be two seasons – Warm Summer and Scalding Summer. For a change of scenery, come out to Lost Maples State Nature Area, and experience the most spectacular display of Fall in the state. In its full color blasted leaf changing glory – oranges, yellows, reds - it’s an amazing sight to see. Not only is this seasonal diorama stunning, but what adds to the viewing pleasure is knowing that these trees, the rare Bigtooth Maples, are believed to be relics of the ice age. So come be a part of this ancient autumnal transition!
Peak Season – primo foliage viewing happens for about 4 weeks total, between the last two weeks of October, and the first two weeks of November. People come out in droves, so beware that the park only lets in 250 cars, and come early for a day hike or make camping reservations…months in advance. Weekdays are also recommended. The park is open 7 days a week year round, so if leaves aren’t your thing, then come any other time to enjoy the area, and avoid the crowds.
By far the biggest attraction. There are 11 miles of trails in 2200 acres of backcountry. They wind next to the Sabinal River, over creek beds, in and out of the forest, and through and around limestone cliffs and caverns.
Beware, these trails are NOT for kids, the elderly, fat canines, or beginning hikers. The trails are strenuous, and can be steep with little shade and loose gravel. No equipment is needed, just a strong heart and a set of sturdy lungs. Lather on the sunscreen and bring lots of water – seriously.
There are two major trails and both have great views, but the East Loop tends to have more limestone, where the West Loop is more ‘earthy’ and less rocky.
There are a few swimming holes here for those wanting to take a dip in the crystal clear water.
Yes, Lost Maples has it, but it’s not recommended, as the mountain biking here is pretty limited.
For the feathered friends enthusiast, two endangered species can be found here, the Black-Capped Vireo and Golden-Cheeked Warbler.
If wanting to stay in the park to view the changing of the trees, book as far in advance as possible. The West Loop tends to be a bit more secluded, where the East Loop tends to attract more campers. At least a two-night stay is recommended in order to really enjoy the entire nature area, and it’s breathtaking views.
There are primitive sites (1-3 mile hike in) and backpacking gear is recommended. At these sites, know that campfires are prohibited due to sensitive habitats. A containerized fuel stove is all that is allowed at these sites, and campers must obey the Leave No Trace principals (take all trash and waste).
The water and electric sites have a picnic table and restrooms nearby for use.
Know that there is no cell reception out here, so plan to leave work and obsessive Facebooking behind. The closest place to get a signal is 4 miles away at a pretty grimy general store, which is also where firewood (for use at water and electric sites only) can be purchased.
Bring ‘em! Although they must stay on leash at all times, and it would be wise to be familiar with exercise levels, as the trails can be harsh on an ill-prepared pooch.