See Some of the Best Fall Leaves in Texas at Lost Maples State Park
November 13, 2020
Lost Maples State Natural Area is located 2 hours outside of San Antonio and known for some of the best fall foliage viewing in the state. The autumnal colors come from the park’s Uvalde bigtooth maple trees, a tree native to this region of Texas. Only a few of these trees are left! People come from all over to see these leaves in their beautiful warm autumnal tones. The park has great hiking trails, a variety of camping options and great opportunities for photography in the fall.
Please make it a priority to Leave No Trace when exploring the outdoors. This includes leaving nothing behind, respecting wildlife, minimizing campfire impacts, respecting those around you, planning ahead and traveling on durable surfaces. For more details, read about the seven principles at lnt.org.
People flock to this park during the fall for good reason. The park’s website releases a fall foliage report in October and November each year so you check to see when the leaves are changing color. The exact timing depends on the weather of the year, but mid-November tends to be your best bet. I visited on November 13th, 2020, right at the peak amount of fall foliage. Be sure to reserve your entry in advance as it fills up quickly during these peak months.
While everyone comes for the fall foliage, the park is wonderful for hiking or camping all year round! The trails offer expansive views and several options for primitive camping. The sites give you the chance to go backpacking at reasonable distances. If you come outside of the fall, you’ll also have the advantage of much less crowds.
The park offers 28 campsites with electricity and 50 sites of hike-in primitive camping at different points on the trails. It’s a beautiful place to camp and the hike-in spots feel especially secluded.
If you are combining this with a trip to Garner State Park, stay in the City of Leakey to be in between the two. There you can stay right on the Frio River at Howdy’s on the Frio or in a cabin in town at Frio Springs.
Stay in Bandera if you are looking for a slightly larger small town that is further east. Here you can find cabins near ruins at Silver Spur Dance Hall & Ruins. If you are interested in staying on a ranch that offers activities like horseback riding, check out the Flying L Ranch Resort or the Mayan Dude Ranch.
To find the trees with the most autumnal colors, head to the main parking lot closest to the Maple Trail. There is a big lawn here with picnic tables and some beautiful trees within feet of your car! From there, head to the Maple Trail where you’ll find the largest concentration of maple trees and foliage in the park.
The East Trail includes incredible views of the Sabinal River valley. You’ll pass by the unique ‘monkey rock’ formation and a secluded grotto that curves up over the river. After about two miles, the trail begins a steep climb. It’s definitely a work out, be sure to bring proper shoes and plenty of water! At the top, you’ll be rewarded with expansive views. There are multiple viewpoints during the trail, my favorite was the view of where the East and West trails meet.
I did a giant loop that includes the East Trail and West Trail (it ended up being about 8 miles total). The east trail had a better view and more fall foliage, but the west trail was nice because of its lack of crowds and beautiful springs. The spring labeled as ‘point of interest five’ on the park map was a huge highlight for me. Water seeps magically from the rock face into a tiny pool, where fish swim and colorful leaves have fallen. This spot was perfect for a close look and there was no one else around to spoil the moment! The West Trail also has another steep climb and unfortunately there’s not much of a view when you get to the top. It is still a beautiful and peaceful trail, I recommend doing it if you have the time.
Garner State Park is a 40 minute drive away and has incredible hiking along with a large variety of activities from paddle boarding to mini golf. Combine the two parks for an incredible weekend trip! Read more about visiting Garner in my blog post!
Lost Maples Winery is located right outside of the park. It has beautiful views, delicious wine and is perfect to relax at after a hike.
The Cowboy Capital of Texas is located an hour outside of Lost Maples. In Bandera, TX you can check out the shops on Main St, learn about Texas heritage at the Frontier Times Museum or explore another park. The Hill Country State Natural Area is nearby and a great place to go horseback riding. The Bandera City Park is located right outside of town and is popular for swimming and BBQ. Bandera also has a lot of hotels and restaurants so it’s a good place to be based for exploring more of Hill Country.
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