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Lost Maples State Natural Area Guide — Hiking, Stargazing, and More

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Amar Hussain
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Amar Hussain

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Amar is an avid traveler and tester of products. He has spent the last 13 years traveling all 7 continents and has put the products to the test on each of them. He has contributed to publications incl...
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Lost Maples State Natural Area is famous for its stunning fall foliage but offers year-round opportunities to enjoy nature. Visitors can enjoy various activities, including birdwatching, hiking, camping, and fishing. With its beautiful hiking trails, abundant wildlife, and breathtaking fall colors, the park attracts nearly 200,000 visitors annually.

How To Get to Lost Maples State Natural Area

Where Is Lost Maples State Natural Area?

Lost Maples State Natural Area is a beautiful and expansive park in Vanderpool, Texas. It is approximately 2 hours northwest of San Antonio, making it an ideal destination for outdoor enthusiasts. The park spans over 2,170 acres in Bandera and Real counties, offering visitors plenty of space to explore.

Lost Maples State Natural Area Opening Hours and Seasons

The park is accessible year-round, with hours of operation from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily. However, routes may be closed for the safety of visitors during inclement weather and poor trail conditions. Despite the potential for closures, the park is ideal for exploration and adventure in any season.

Nearest Airports to Lost Maples State Natural Area

The nearest major airport to this park is San Antonio International Airport, about an hour and 45 minutes away. This airport offers a wide range of nonstop flights to popular U.S. destinations such as Los Angeles, New York, Orlando, and San Francisco.

Many renowned airlines serve this airport, such as Delta, Frontier, JetBlue, Southwest, and United. Once you reach the airport, you’ll find several rental car kiosks with agents who can assist you in arranging the final leg of your journey to the park.

Driving to Lost Maples State Natural Area

Driving to Lost Maples State Natural Area
Image Credit: TPWD

To reach Lost Maples State Natural Area, visitors from San Antonio can take Highway 16 North to Medina and turn left onto FM 337 to Vanderpool. Then, turn right onto Highway 187 and continue for 5 miles until you reach the entrance.

For those coming from Austin, take I-35 South to New Braunfels and then take a right onto Highway 46. From there, travel through Bandera to Medina and take a left on FM 337. Finally, turn right onto FM 187 and continue for 5 miles until you reach the park’s entrance.

Taking the Train or Bus To Lost Maples State Natural Area

There is no train or bus service to Lost Maples State Natural Area.

Getting Around Lost Maples State Natural Area

The best way to get around the park is by car or foot. Multiple parking areas allow you to leave your car and explore the surroundings on foot. The park provides a printable map to help you plan and navigate your adventures.

Taking the Train to Lost Maples State Natural Area

Lost Maples State Natural Area offers something for everyone, from birdwatching and fishing to enjoying the vibrant fall foliage and stargazing.

Birding

This natural area is a paradise for birding enthusiasts. A diverse range of bird species call this park home. Some of the most commonly seen birds here include the turkey vulture, American robin, red-tailed hawk, great horned owl, and ladder-backed woodpecker. The park offers a printable bird checklist for visitors who enjoy tracking and identifying the species they encounter during their time in the park.

Hot Tip:

It is advisable to bring binoculars and a camera with you for up-close views and photographs of these alluring birds as a memento from your trip.

Fall Foliage

Lost Maples State Natural Area is a breathtaking destination that attracts visitors from all over the world. What sets this park apart is its stunning fall foliage display. As the temperature starts to drop in November, the trees in the park burst into a riot of colors, painting the landscape with brilliant hues of gold, burgundy, and orange.

A walk through the park during this time is a feast for the senses, as the rustling leaves and crisp autumn air fill you with wonder and awe. Don’t forget to bring your camera along to capture the beauty of this natural wonderland.

Fishing

Anglers enjoy fishing at this park, particularly the Sabinal River and Can Creek. Fishing from the shore here does not require a license, and you can expect to catch catfish, panfish, and bass, among other types of fish. However, before setting out to fish, you must familiarize yourself with the fishing regulations to ensure compliance with the rules.

Hiking

Hiking Lost Maples State Natural Area
Image Credit: TPWD

More than 10 miles of trails run through this natural area. These trails are available for both hiking and biking. They vary in length and difficulty level and have names such as Maple Trail, East-West Trail, East Trail, West Trail, and West Loop Trail.

Some highlights you can see along the way include the Mystic Canyon Area, Ashe juniper groves, the Sabinal River, and a large stand of relict bigtooth maple trees. Whether you prefer a leisurely stroll or a challenging hike, there is something for everyone at this park.

Stargazing

Lost Maples State Natural Area is also a fantastic location for stargazing enthusiasts, with its dark skies and minimal light pollution. Throughout the year, Lost Maples offers several stargazing programs, including guided night hikes, telescope viewings, and educational presentations by experts in the field of astronomy.

Visitors can observe the night sky through telescopes provided by the park and learn about the constellations, stars, planets, and other celestial objects visible from the area.

The park’s location and elevation provide breathtaking views of the stars, meteors, and the Milky Way, making it an ideal spot for anyone who loves to explore the celestial world.

Bottom Line:

Whether you’re an experienced stargazer or just starting, Lost Maples State Natural Area offers an unforgettable experience you won’t want to miss.

Best Times To Visit Lost Maples State Natural Area

This park is open all year round and provides opportunities for adventure in every season. Certain times of the year are better for planning a trip, especially if you want to participate in a specific event or activity.

Best Time To Visit Lost Maples State Natural Area in Winter

Many travelers visit this park during winter, particularly in February, which is considered the best month for a winter visit. During this time, the temperature typically ranges from mid-30s to mid-60s, with an average of only 3 days of precipitation. These temperatures are quite comfortable for exploring the park grounds, as long as you dress appropriately for the cool weather.

Best Time To Visit Lost Maples State Natural Area To Avoid the Crowds

The best time to visit this park and avoid crowds is in September, which is between the peak seasons. The temperatures in September are comfortable for hiking and camping. Without the crowds, you can explore the park at your own pace without worrying about long lines, crowded areas, and traffic.

Best Time To Visit Lost Maples State Natural Area for Ideal Weather

Lost Maples State Natural Area for Ideal Weather
Image Credit: mlhradio via Flickr (license)

Planning a vacation requires considering various factors, including the weather. For this reason, it is advisable to schedule your trip based on typical weather patterns. The best month to go is April, as the weather is ideal. The temperature typically ranges from the low 50s to the low 80s, with an average of 3 days of rainfall during the month.

Cheapest Time To Visit Lost Maples State Natural Area

Traveling can be expensive, but with some research and planning, you can plan a budget-friendly trip. The least expensive time to visit this park is from mid- to late September. During this time, flights and accommodations are the most affordable in the surrounding towns. A trip in September has the potential to save you hundreds of dollars in travel expenses.

Annual Events in Lost Maples State Natural Area

Lost Maples State Natural Area offers a variety of events throughout the year for visitors to enjoy. Some of the events include birdwatching, star parties, and full moon hikes. One annual event takes place.

First Day Hike

The First Day Hike is an annual event that takes place on January 1. It’s an excellent opportunity to explore the park and get your first workout of the year. To make the hike more enjoyable, you can take part in a photo scavenger hunt while you’re hiking through the park.

Where To Stay in Lost Maples State Natural Area

Whether you prefer to stay within the park or in a nearby town, there are ample accommodation options.

Inside the Park

Lost Maples State Natural Area Camping
Image Credit: TPWD

There is no option for indoor lodging within Lost Maples State Area. However, you can camp outdoors under the stars. There are 28 campsites available with electricity and 50 primitive hike-in sites. The campsites with electricity include picnic tables, fire rings, and restrooms with showers.

If you prefer a more rustic experience, you may choose to stay at one of the primitive sites. Camping for the night is an excellent way to fully embrace the park’s natural beauty.

Towns Near Lost Maples State Natural Area

Multiple towns are located near the park, ideal for visitors who wish to set up a home base outside the park’s boundaries.

Bandera, Texas

Bandera is a quaint town nestled in the gorgeous Texas Hill Country, known far and wide as the Cowboy Capital of the World. The town is just a 45-minute drive from Lost Maples State Natural Area, making it an ideal home base for visitors to the park.

Whether you’re looking for a quaint bed-and-breakfast, a rustic cabin, or a luxurious hotel, Bandera offers lodging options to suit every taste and budget. The town also boasts a vibrant culinary scene, with various restaurants serving everything from classic Texas barbecue to gourmet cuisine.

Hot Tip:

Bandera is a paradise for those who love the outdoors, with opportunities for hiking, biking, horseback riding, and more.

Utopia, Texas

Utopia is just 20 minutes away from the beautiful Lost Maples State Natural Area. It offers various accommodations, dining, and recreational activities, making it a great place to stay while visiting the park.

The town boasts cozy bed and breakfasts, rustic cabins, and several excellent eateries serving up delicious local cuisine. Visitors can also enjoy activities such as hiking, biking, fishing, and birdwatching in the town’s surroundings.

Where To Eat in Lost Maples State Natural Area

There are no restaurants within Lost Maples State Natural Area, but there are options in the surrounding towns.

Laurel Tree Restaurant

The Laurel Tree Restaurant is in Utopia, approximately 18 miles from the park. It is the highest-rated restaurant in Utopia. Reservations are necessary to dine here. The restaurant is open on Saturdays for both lunch and dinner.

The menu is curated by a French-trained chef, making it an excellent spot to enjoy a sophisticated meal, exquisite wine, and unparalleled customer service.

Lost Maples Cafe

Lost Maples Cafe is in Utopia, about 15 miles from the park. The cafe serves traditional American cuisine and is known for its homemade pies, which are available for breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day. Should you seek a warm and inviting place to dine while visiting Lost Maples, be sure not to miss the Lost Maples Cafe.

Lost Maples State Natural Area Facts

Lost Maples State Natural Area
Image Credit: Dan Thibodeaux via Flickr (license)

1. The State Natural Area Was Established in 1979

This area opened on September 1, 1979, after the state purchased the land from private owners in 1973 and 1974.

2. Prehistoric People Inhabited Parklands

This land was used by prehistoric people at various periods. In the late 17th century, the Spanish started exploring and colonizing the area. From the mid-1800s, the land was utilized for ranching purposes. Prior to the land’s settlement in the 19th century, several Native American tribes, including the Apache, Lipan Apache, and Comanche Indians, lived here.

3. There’s an Abundance of Animals

This park is home to a diverse range of animals, making it a great spot for wildlife enthusiasts. White-tailed deer, raccoons, armadillos, rock squirrels, bobcats, and javelina are just a few of the species you might encounter while exploring the park’s trails. Birdwatchers will also be pleased with the park’s numerous bird species, providing ample opportunities for spotting and identifying birds.

4. It’s a National Natural Landmark

Lost Maples State Natural Area earned the National Natural Landmark designation in 1980 due to its unique and beautiful features.

5. What’s in a Name?

Lost Maples State Natural Area is named for the abundance of maple trees in the area. Although people sometimes refer to it as Lost Maples State Park, it’s officially designated as a natural area where people can enjoy its beauty.

Final Thoughts

Lost Maples State Natural Area is a wonderful place to explore and appreciate the natural beauty of Texas. It’s a great destination for adventure enthusiasts, nature lovers, and anyone looking for a peaceful environment. If you’re looking for a unique and immersive outdoor experience, Lost Maples State Natural Area is definitely worth a visit.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much does it cost to visit Lost Maples State Natural Area?

A daily pass costs $6 at Lost Maples State Natural Area, but children 12 years old or younger can enter free of charge.

How much time should I spend visiting Lost Maples State Natural Area?

It is recommended to spend at least half a day exploring Lost Maples State Natural Area. For a more immersive experience, plan to stay overnight in one of the many campsites located within the park.

What are the busiest times at Lost Maples State Natural Area?

The busiest times of the year are October through November and from March to May.

What are some attractions near Lost Maples State Natural Area?

When visiting Lost Maples State Natural Area, be sure to check out Garner State Park and Hill Country State Natural Area.

Amar Hussain's image

About Amar Hussain

Amar is an avid traveler and tester of products. He has spent the last 13 years traveling all 7 continents and has put the products to the test on each of them. He has contributed to publications including Forbes, the Huffington Post, and more.

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