Lost Maples State Natural Area, Vanderpool, TX

Nov 28

Lost Maples State Natural Area, Vanderpool, TX

After three weeks of trying to get out to see Lost Maples, we finally got to go this past Monday.

I heard about Lost Maples from the San Antonio blogger group. I checked out the website and joined their Facebook group as well to hear the weekly foliage report. I didn’t know if we were going have any leaves to see after a strong storm over the weekend, but I’m glad to report we saw plenty of color and beauty at the park.

Park Details

Lost Maples State Natural Area, considered a Texas State Park. Located 2 hours west of San Antonio. Since we were coming from the south side of San Antonio, we drove west on 90, then north. The view from the top of the first hill was amazing!

$6 per person for day use. Camping is available as well for $20 night.

The park is open until 10pm for day visitors. The office closes at 5pm. I couldn’t find out this information online as their website only says open daily, so I hope this helps for anyone looking to visit. We got there around 3pm and there was plenty of time for us to do a short loop before the sun started to set.

Pets are allowed on the trail. Bring bags to clean up after them. The trail is rocky, so if you can get your pet to wear booties to protect their feet it might be helpful to them.

We got no cell service from Verizon while in the park and on the way there once we topped the hills. The entire area is called the Sabinal River Canyon area and you’re definitely in the bottom of a big bowl as you’re getting to the park and while in the park. There is wi-fi available at the park office.

Camping

The campground is small. There is one loop campground just past the office. We saw a variety of RVs and tent campers, and the camp host was in small bus, but no huge big rigs. Reviews I’ve read say you can fit a 38 foot RV into the sites, but they seemed small to me, and the road is narrow.  The sites are all back in or pull in, no pull through. The campground is $20 night plus your daily access fee. You can walk from the campground to the trailhead if you want, but it will add about a mile or so to your hike.

Each campsite had a covered shed over the picnic area. Some sites were shadier than others. Families and singles were there. It’s definitely a quiet place.

I don’t know if cellular internet would work in the campground as we couldn’t get a signal on our phones while in the park. A booster may be able to reach the wi-fi at the office, but satellite internet may be best for this campground. You’re surrounded by hills and you’re down in a valley, so there’s no clear line of sight to a tower. If anyone has used cellular internet here, please let me know so I can update this. We did see RV campers with satellite dishes and domes set up.

There is also backcountry camping available on the trails with composting toilets nearby. I didn’t check the price of those sites.

You can read the reviews on the RV Park Reviews website and most travel sites.

The Trails

Lost Maples has the Maple Trail, East Trail and West Trail. We’d heard the best color was on the Maple Trail and East Trail, and these together make a short loop, so that’s what we decided to do. We followed the East Trail for a little while as well, then looped backwards when the sun started to fade.

Maple trees at day use lot at Lost Maples State Natural Area

Day use parking lot at Lost Maples State Natural Area

 

The day use parking lot was almost full. This area is a large, open area with sheltered picnic tables and a restroom. There’s plenty of room to walk your dogs or just relax and enjoy the scenery. The trailheads for the Maple Trail and the East Trail started from this lot. The trailhead for the West Trail started from another parking area.

Both trails are very rocky. We saw some people trying to take strollers down the trail with them. Not a good idea. The trails aren’t stroller or wheelchair friendly. The Maple Trail has several areas with rocky steps built into the hillside.

Rock steps on the Maple Trail

Rock steps on the Maple Trail

Rocky path on the Maple Trail

Straight and rocky path on the Maple Trail

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While not all the trees had turned, I believe we saw some excellent color on both the Maple Trail and the East Trail. We kept stopping to take pictures of the trees and the hillsides. On the way back we started taking videos.

Maple branch over bench on Maple Trail

Maple branch over bench on Maple Trail

Maple tree at Lost Maples Natural Area

Maple tree on Maple Trail

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We crossed several areas of dry and semi-dry riverbed. I don’t know if the Sabinal River has been dammed up or if it’s just due to the drought conditions, but there was very little water in the river from what we saw, not only in the park but on the way into the park as well. But what we did see was crystal clear turquoise water.

Sabinal River, clear water on East Trail at Lost Maples

Clear river water on the East Trail

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Part of the rocky East Trail at Lost Maples Natural Area

East Trail – flat but still very rocky.

This is one of the flattest areas on the East Trail, but you can see it’s still very rocky. We were careful to watch our step as it was easy to twist an ankle on the rocks.

 

On the way back to the parking lot, we took the East Trail parallel to the Maple Trail, making our own short loop. We had to cross this section of the riverbed, carefully stepping on the rocks so we wouldn’t get our feet wet.

Sabinal River crossing on East Trail at Lost Maples Natural Area

Sabinal River crossing on East Trail at Lost Maples Natural Area

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The entire area around Lost Maples is a wonderful place for nature and history lovers. The entire area is a lush canyon, carved from the Sabinal, Frio and Nueces rivers. You can float down the Frio but the Sabinal is bordered by private property. The Sabinal, as you can see in the photos from the park, is also very low and tends to ebb and flow with the rainfall in the area. This area is popular for hiking, hunting, and birdwatching.

Best time to visit? 

I would say October or November would be the best time if you want to see the best color on the trees. I’ve heard others say spring is also a good time to visit as the park isn’t very crowded and the summer heat is a still a few months away.  Once we start full time travel in 2016 /2017, we’re hoping to come back and say through the holidays, or at least through November.

See the rest of the photos from our day at Lost Maples in our Lost Maples Photobucket album.

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