Falling for Fall at Lost Maples State Natural Area

Brandon and I finally got to experience Fall and all its orange and red glory on a camping trip to Lost Maples State Natural Area a few weeks ago!

Given that we don’t get much of a Fall here in Texas, and given that my Fall clothes are still packed away in boxes, it was a huge treat to get a small taste of the season.

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Lost Maples is located in Southwest Texas, in the direction of Garner State Park, Leakey, and Medina. It is THE place to see the leaves change in Texas and you should not miss seeing it at least once in your life!

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We made the reservations over ten months ago (you have to reserve very early for this time of year as it is extremely popular!) and got up early on Saturday morning to head down there. Thanks to a tip from a friend, we knew to stop at the Love Creek Orchards Apple Store in Medina on the way.

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They sell cute gifts and every form of apple you can imagine, so it turned out to be a delicious stop. They have a patio and restaurant where you can order breakfast and lunch. We got two apple turnovers filled with fresh Medina apples and we were pretty much in breakfast heaven.

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So delicious.

The drive from Austin was beautiful but the stretch between Medina and the park was truly the most stunning part.

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I took so many pictures and videos outside the car window!

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When we arrived we set about putting up the tent.

This is where Brandon takes charge. I follow orders and take pictures. I’ve learned this is my better role when it comes to building or arranging things, whether it’s the tent or the dishwasher. His mind is like one gigantic Tetris game and this is where he shines.

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Five seconds later…

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Ta da! Campsite done.

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With all of that set up, we headed out on the Maple Trail, which was very cute and had some of the best colors of the park.

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It was charming and perfect for kids, and reminded me of something out of a children’s book.

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Trooper loved it!

From there we continued on East Trail, which is 4.6 miles and leads up to the top of a ridge. East Trail is THE trail you come to the park to see, and do not miss it!

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This path starts out innocently enough, with wide and flat walkways…

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Passes Monkey Rock, which is shaped like a monkey…

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passes by a beautiful cave and creekbed…

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Through lots of fall leaves…

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and deposits you here:

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The infamous stairs.

For 1.5 miles, the trail is pretty steep as you reach the top of the hill. No mercy and no rest for the wicked.

By the end of it, I was carrying Trooper and was hoping someone would carry me. Brandon and I were asking each other “How did we ever make it hiking in the Sierra?”

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It was so worth it though, because the views were absolutely breathtaking.

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I couldn’t get over how pretty it was. The trees down in the valley were starting to turn orange, and the Sabinal river which cuts through the park was forming a pool beside some campsites.

We rested our weary bones (and our weary dog) up here and had a picnic…something I would definitely recommend doing. Every Texan needs to have a picnic up on this hill!

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Lots of folks were up here just enjoying the view and there were clearings all along the ridge, so you could commandeer one and sit for a while.

This was a high point in our trip.

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Get it, high point?

🙂

On the way back, we had to stop and observe a water feature of some sort my husband found, because he’s an engineer and that’s the kind of thing that really rings his bell.

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“Take my picture,” he said.

There?” I asked, thinking he would certainly want a better backdrop.

“Yeah I want the bridge in it,” he said.

I should have known.

I suppose I shouldn’t have teased him too much because I did ask him to take this picture, after all:

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and he didn’t ask a single question.

(We former ballerinas have our quirks too.)

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Later that afternoon we came back and made s’mores, cooked chicken on the dutch oven, and hung out and read. We were exhausted! Climbing up that hill did us in.

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The next morning, Brandon got out his fishing gear and we all went down to one of the ponds along the East Trail to see if he could catch something.

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Sadly nothing was biting but it was a very tranquil start to the morning!

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We packed up shop and headed back towards Austin, with one minor detour to see this overlook…

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Oh Texas, you so pretty!

We had such a fun-filled, FALL-filled weekend at Lost Maples and will be coming back again. I could see us making this an annual thing! The campsites were spacious, the restrooms tidy, and there were plenty of hiking trails and fishing holes. This has the most varied landscapes of any of the state parks I’ve visited thus far and is one of my favorite state parks. Plus, it makes my autumn loving heart so happy.

Y’all should check it out.

Plan Your Visit

Recommended itinerary

Friday

  • 3pm leave Austin
  • 6pm Stop in Medina, Texas at Love Creek Orchards for dinner, and pick up apple turnovers for the following morning’s breakfast
  • 7pm Arrive at Lost Maples (30 min from Love Creek Orchards)
  • Set up tent, stargaze

Saturday

  • Morning: hike Maple Trail and East Trail
  • Picnic Lunch at top of hill on East Trail
  • Afternoon: games and nap at the camp site
  • Saturday evening: campfire, Dutch oven cooking maybe?, s’mores!

Sunday

  • Adventurous option: hike up West Trail (this one is strenuous!)
  • Laid back option: take a scenic drive west on HWY 337 (see map) and look for scenic view
  • Stop by Love Creek and pick up your very own Lost Maple seedling to take home!

Alternatively, leave early Saturday morning like we did and stop at the apple orchard for breakfast. 

Things to Know

  • Nearest General Store: There is a handy general store at the corner of Hwy 187 and 337. Details click here
  • Lost Maples State Natural Area Website: click here
  • Reserve 10+ months in advance!
  • No hand towels in the restroom

Map to the Overlook

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Head west on 337 and you will see it on the south side of the road. (There are lots of good overlooks around here!)

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