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Lost Maples State Natural Area has some beautiful hiking trails and backpacking areas.
There are basically two loops - an East Trail and a West Trail and each covers about 4-5 miles. It is completely possible to hike all the trails (about 12 miles) in a single day, but I prefer to hike and appreciate the natural features that can be found throughout the park.
This review is for the Primitive Area E on the West Trail. The campsite is a primitive or dispersed site so there are no amenities. There is no water, no electricity, no restrooms, just natural space. Leave No Trace and Pack In Pack Out principles should be practiced. The camping area is adjacent to the East Trail. There is a open field in one area and a tree covered space in another area. So there are options for both tent and hammock backpackers.
I'd say that the hike to the campsite and away from the campsite is more scenic than the actual campsite. Perhaps the best time of the year to visit is in November when the weather is cool and the fall foliage take place. The park is very busy in November, so make a reservation very early or go when the weather is extremely cold and no one else wants to be outdoors.
If you need supplies you may find some basics at the general store in the small town nearby the park named Vanderpool.
The park has sone beautiful hiking along the Frio river. We stayed in the sites with full hookup which seam to be newer with new restrooms not open at the time so we had a short walk to the visitor center bathroom which was minimal and not as clean as I would like. The sites with just water and electric were much shadier and beautiful. They also have tent camping, some with shelters. I believe cabins are also available. Checkin process was a little slow even though we had reservations, I suggest to them they should have a separate fast lane for those with reservations. The camp store and gift shop were very nice and well stocked with essentials. Fire wood was about $6 for a large bundle. Garner grill was not open.
Everyone loves Lost Maples State Natural Area, whether you are a RV camper, car camper, backcountry camper or just visiting for the day and day hiking. There's a little something for everyone.
Perhaps the best time of the year to visit Lost Maples is in the Autumn when the fall foliage is occurring - it is often during the first three weeks of November. However, during fall foliage it can be very difficult to reserve a campsite, so I recommend booking a campsite 6 months in advance. Or do what I did and show up on a really cold weekday when no one else is interested in being outside in 25 degree weather and there will be plenty of space to car camp or backcountry camp.
If you camp at the established drive-up campground there are assigned campsites with space for cars, vans and RVs. At each campsite there is a sunshade shelter, picnic table, lantern pole, water, electricity and campfire pit with a grill. There is also a restroom nearby with sinks, toilets, showers and a water fountain. There is even a little free library where you can take a book to read or leave a book to share.
If you camp in the backcountry there are designated and marked zones where you just set up your tent. There are no facilities in the backcountry campsites so leave no trace practices should be applied. Near some of the backcountry campsites there are latrines.
The park has well maintained hiking trails that will lead you by pastures, through forest, alongside creeks and up some hills. It is possible to hike the 8 to 10 miles of trails in one day, but it is more fun to go slow and enjoy the sights. There is an East Trail Loop and a West Trail Loop and some spur trails. Pick up a map at the Ranger Station and enjoy the trails. Some of the trails have steep rock ascents which are indicated on the park map.
If you need supplies there is a small store with basics in the nearby town of Vanderpool.
While you are in the area, you may as well stop by Bandera, Texas known as the cowboy capital of the world. It is a small Texas town and every weekend they celebrate cowboy culture with some performances and events.
Has water activities suck has kayak rentals and canoes. I personally didn’t rent anything didn’t do anything in the water as the time of year Emmy group went, the water was very cold.
Hiking up to their peak was very nice and not too crazy difficult as well. Good place for a family trip.
Our family has made Garner an annual trip at Spring Break. The park has TONS of activities for everyone - hiking, swimming, fishing, kayaking, dancing - yes I said dancing. At the pavilion around 830pm on the weekends they have a dance. A hike up Old Baldy is a must. It’s a workout but the views are well worth it. The RV sites are mostly level. The park is Water and Electric only but there are plenty of dump stations.
Clean and safe. Park patrol was clearly present which felt nice. Three or four dump stations made for a quick experience when leaving at the end of our stay. A lot of Day Users so expect large crowd of none overnight guests. Wi-Fi and cell phone coverage was all but non- existent. Had to drive to Park Headquarters to get Wi-Fi and that was spotty. Park store had plenty to offer but as you can imagine prices were a much inflated. Many trails to hike and the river is cool and clear.