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.
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.
Spent the weekend here with my family. Awesome swimming and hiking adventures. Will definitely be back in the fall for the changing of the leaves
Short trip for weekend stay for us. Close to the river. Nice spaces with covered tables and scattered trees. Hiking, pet friendly. Showers were clean and well kept. No sewer hook up but dump station is right off the road. Plenty of open space to see the Texas skies and right there at the Frio River. One of our go to spots.
Sites a bit close and unshaded, but nice enough.
Campgrounds are clean, beautiful and well-kept. RV and tent campers can use designated gravel sites with covered picnic tables. There are eight separate primitive camping areas ranging from 1-5 miles of hiking into the parks trail system. This is a great location to try out backpacking gear. There are multiple water and creek crossings for fishing and cooling off in the summer.
The sites are a little close-in, but otherwise perfect. There are so few of them (30 total), so book early- in order to get a fall reservation, I booked nearly a year in advance!
The fall colors are beautiful (not like Northeast colors, but very nice for Texas :) ) There are picnic areas and a nice 4 mile loop to take in the tree scenery too.
Sites have covered picnic tables, water spigots, and fire pits.
By far one of my favorite parks in TX, beautiful year around (even sweltering August) but the best time is Fall to see the leaves fall. Primitive camping only so expect at least a mile trek in, campsite C is nearest the deep pond (excellent swimming hole with adequate cliff jumping for the extra adventurous) I prefer to stay at Site B though it can be a challenging 2 mile, steep uphill climb but well worth the view at sunset. BRING WATER OR WATER PURIFICATION there are a few natural springs but they are far and in between.
beautiful small RV park but great hiking and seasons color changes
The campsite was peaceful, views amazing, trails were easy to hard and all views worth it. A nice drive in. Felt relaxed at day one.