Lost Maples State Natural Area, near Kerrville and Vanderpool, Texas, is beautiful year-round, but it is the fall colors of its bigtooth maples and other deciduous trees that draw in the crowds. The park is named for its pocket of bigtooth maples that were brought to its canyons by Ice Age glaciers. The maples do well because of the park’s microclimate, though in any given year the fall colors are dependent on that year’s rainfall and temperatures.
During our visit, the woods were a colorful palette of greens, golds, oranges, reds, and browns. The colors come from the Bigtooth Maples, Red Oaks, Lacey Oaks, Flameleaf Sumacs, and other trees, and even vines such as Virginia Creeper and Poison Ivy.
Sometimes the colors were all present on the same tree.
But when the trees were ready, they really did the colors right.
Aside from the pleasing flora, the park offers miles of trails, springs, rivers, overlooks, grasslands, fern-covered canyon walls, and more. During the fall, visitors will wait in car lines for two hours just to get into the park. We cheated by going on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, and we had no problem getting in. After the 3.5-hour drive from Austin, we were ready for some exercise!
The dogs were very excited to be there, too. Most of the pictures in this blog were taken after their energy wore out a little. Guess why?
Lost Maples’ most popular trail is a short, relatively easy walk, but we opted for the almost-5-mile East Trail. Shortly into the hike, we were met by a sign that read something along the lines of “Steep Trail for the Next 1.5 Miles.” It was not just steep — it was very, very rocky, too. And you know, what goes up, must come down.
But it was worth it to see the beauty of the area for miles around.
The mountaintop was covered in Ashe Junipers and various grasses. The boys imagined a scene from an African savannah, with lions lurking about.
As we made our way down the other side of the mountain, the stunning fall foliage came forth again.
Though the dogs were worn out by the end, they didn’t mind a final jog.
On our way home, we stopped at Stonehenge II, a smaller version of its more famous archaeological wonder of a cousin. It also has an Easter Island-like statue. It was getting dark, so we snapped a picture and headed on. A nifty spot to visit — we’ll go back in daylight.