Lost Maples State Natural Area proves that Texas has four seasons, contrary to popular belief. As one of the most recommended tourist spots in the state, it offers much entertainment and natural beauty. Let’s look more closely at this gem hidden in the southwest of Texas.
Lost Maples State Natural Area is less than 100 miles from San Antonio in the Texas Hill Country. It’s a popular hiking and camping destination, especially for nature lovers who want to get away from technology for a while. The park is known for its maple trees and colorful views in the fall.
About Lost Maples State Natural Area
Lost Maples State Natural Area is a region of Texas that spans almost 3,000 acres. It is an official Natural Area, so the state is invested in protecting Lost Maples and keeping it as close as possible to its natural state.
Keeping it close to its natural state is an excellent idea since it is one of the most beautiful places in Texas, which is saying a lot since Texas is home to many stunning places.
Facts About Lost Maples State Natural Area
- Location: 37221 F.M. 187, Vanderpool, Texas (Five miles north of Vanderpool if you follow Ranch Road 187).
- County: Lost Maples falls under Bandera and Real Counties.
- Zip Code: 78885
- Towns: Lost Maples is located near the towns of Utopia and Bandera and five miles from Vanderpool.
- GPS Coordinates: 29.807719 Latitude, -99.570697 Longitude.
- Land Area: 2,900 acres in the southwest of Texas.
- Average Temperature in June: 91oF (33oC)
- Average Temperature in January: 62oF (17oC)
- Busiest Time Of The Year: The fall months, from late October to mid-November.
What’s Lost Maples State Natural Area Known For?
Lost Maples is known for its colorful beauty during fall when the fiery reds, browns, and yellows create a stark contrast against the evergreen plants in the region. But even though that’s what draws people in the first place, the area has become known for many other things, too.
The first thing is Lost Maples’ natural beauty. Apart from the fall colors, the area has some of the most striking natural vistas in all of Texas throughout the year:
- An abundance of blooming wildflowers
- Beautiful bigtooth maple trees that grow all around the region
- Steep and towering canyon walls add even more color to the scenery
- The beautiful scenery of the Sabinal River
- The Grotto (a natural rock formation that creates a beautiful grotto above the ground).
These are what Lost Maples is most known for, and it also brings people back to hike and camp again, year after year.
Where Is Lost Maples State Natural Area?
Lost Maples State Natural Area is located between central and southwestern Texas near the small town of Vanderpool. It is remote but close enough to many larger towns and cities to reach for a day or weekend outing.
There are plenty of small towns and other places of interest near Lost Maples:
|Distance From Lost Maples
|Lone Star Motorcycle Museum
|Sabinal River Winery
The two cities closest to Lost Maples are San Antonio (90.1 miles) and Fredericksburg (75.3 miles).
What To Do In Lost Maples State Natural Area
You don’t want to book a camping trip or a day outing for the family just to face boredom and go home early. Luckily, you will have no problem keeping everyone busy at Lost Maples.
Some of the popular activities available at Lost Maples include:
- Bird watching
- Wildlife watching
- Nature photography
- Geocache hunting
Lost Maples State Natural Park has five hiking trails that cover more than 10 miles combined. They range from easy to challenging, taking from 20 minutes to three and a half hours, so you can easily find the perfect trail.
|West Loop Trail
|3 ½ hours
Apart from plenty of bigtooth maple trees, birds, and wildlife, you can spot many places of interest on these trails, including:
- Monkey Rock, a unique outcrop of limestone with plants growing out of the cliff walls.
- The Grotto, another incredible natural wonder.
- The Scenic Overlook, which offers an incredible view of the Sabinal River valley.
- Day-Use Pond, which is an area dedicated to day-use where you can swim, picnic, and go bass fishing.
- Two natural springs that feed the plant growth of the landscape.
Lost Maples offers two camping options. The first offers all the luxuries of modern camping at one of the 28 full-service campsites. You can park your R.V. and get access to a picnic table, fire ring, water, 30 amp power, shade, and restrooms with showers. In other words, everything you would expect from a modern campsite.
But Lost Maples also offers primitive camping for those who prefer it. There are fifty primitive campsites catering for up to six people per site. You should take backpacking equipment with you, and you will have to hike to the sites.
Fires are also prohibited at primitive campsites, but you can use containerized fuel stoves for cooking. A vital point to remember is that you should leave the area as close as possible to the state you found it in.
That is why it’s a protected state area, after all. So, practice the “Leave No Trace” principle, and you will be fine.
You may legally fish from the Day-Use Pond or the Sabinal River anywhere within Lost Maples State Natural Area and do not even need a license. Bass is the most common type of fish you will find here, and you may catch them on a catch-and-release basis.
But you can also find plenty of panfish and catfish, which you may catch within limits specified by Texas state.
Lost Maples State Natural Area is a popular location for geocaching. There are several stashes and geocaches hidden in the park that you can hunt for, as the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department strongly supports the geocaching movement.
The park is full of various birds. One of the things many people love to do at the Scenic Overlook is to watch the fish-eagles and different birds they can spot there. You may also see the black-capped vireo or the endangered golden-cheeked warbler.
Birding is so popular at Lost Maples State Natural Park that the park has an entire booklet you can download for free from the Texas Parks website.
For The Kids: Become A Junior Ranger
Lost Maples is part of the Texas Parks Junior Ranger program. This means kids can pick up a free Junior Ranger guide from the office at Lost Maples and start completing challenges to earn badges.
They can complete most of these challenges while hiking or camping with their families and ask for assistance from the park rangers or volunteers working at Lost Maples.
Lost Maples State Natural Area FAQs
Is Lost Maples Dog Friendly?
Lost Maples State National Area is dog friendly. You are welcome to take your pup anywhere along the 11 miles of trails or 2,000 acres of wilderness, but only on a leash.
Is Lost Maples A State Park?
No, Lost Maples is not a State Park but a State Natural Area, which means that protecting the region’s natural state is the top priority.
When Is The Best Time To Visit Lost Maples?
The most popular time to visit Lost Maples is from the end of October until mid-November. Fall is the most colorful season in Lost Maples, and most visitors want to see that. However, it’s also the busiest time, so you should pre-book if you wish to go during those weeks.
Can I Get Married At Lost Maples?
You can get married at Lost Maples. The area offers some of the most beautiful views for wedding photographs and a romantic backdrop for your “I Dos.” You can even bring your dogs along, as well as your friends and family, if you really want to.
Is There Mobile Phone Reception At Lost Maples?
You cannot count on getting even one reception bar at the Lost Maples State Natural Area, so do not rely on your smartphone for navigation. You should get a map (or two, ideally – one to get you there and one to navigate inside) and let all the important people know that you will be unreachable for a while.
May I Bike On The Trails?
The trails are primarily for hiking, but you can bike for the first mile from the trailhead, after which the area becomes too rocky and uneven to traverse on a bike.
Can I Buy Food At Lost Maples?
There are no restaurants or shops in the park, though the office sometimes has a few necessities for sale. You can find many cafes and restaurants in the neighboring towns like Vanderpool and Utopia, but if you’re not planning to drive to town, it’s best to bring plenty of supplies with you that will last for the duration of your visit.
- The official Texas Parks And Wildlife website for Lost Maples – texas.gov
- Lost Maples campsite information – texas.gov
- Lost Maples map – maps.google.com
- Fishing at Lost Maples – bluecordfishermen.com
Christian Linden is a seasoned writer and contributor at Texas View, specializing in topics that resonate with the Texan community. With over a decade of experience in journalism, Christian brings a wealth of knowledge in local politics, culture, and lifestyle. He holds a Bachelor's degree in Communications from the University of Texas. When he's not writing, Christian enjoys spending weekends traveling across Texas with his family, exploring everything from bustling cities to serene landscapes.