The Lost Maples State Natural Area is a year-round outdoor oasis that's most famous for its vibrant autumn colours. It may be small and quaint, but it makes up for its size with a dramatic, ever-changing landscape. Located 2 hours northwest of San Antonio, a few miles past Vanderpool, this off-the-beaten-path state natural area offers outdoor activities in abundance.

Active outdoor lovers will enjoy the 10+ miles of hiking trails, fish-filled rivers to cast, and colourful, vocal birds to spot. For those looking to get deeply off-grid, there are numerous primitive campsites for backpacking. Thanks to its status as a dark sky park, stargazing is incredible at the Lost Maples State Natural Area. The natural landscape is matched with a unique local culture, embodied by the numerous small Hill Country towns dotted around the area. Take a long weekend and digitally disconnect at this one-of-a-kind Texas natural area.

Lost Maples State Natural Area near San Antonio - one of the highlights of 10 Best Road Trips near San Antonio and 10 Best Outdoor Adventures in San Antonio (Read all about San Antonio here)

photo by G Yancy (CC BY 2.0) modified

What are the highlights of the Lost Maples State Natural Area?

The Lost Maples State Natural Area is known all over the Lone Star State as the place to see bright autumn colours. The turning of the bigtooth maple leaves lasts for roughly 6 weeks, from late October through November. It’s a good idea to check the autumn foliage reports and plan accordingly. Spring is also a favourite time to visit, as the abundant wildflowers start to bloom in various colours.

The best way to immerse yourself in the natural landscape is by hiking the casual Maple Trail, leaving you in awe of the magnificent namesake trees. For the thrill-seekers in the group, don't miss the Scenic Overlook along the East Trail which climbs to a staggering 2,500-ft cliffside summit providing panoramic views.

If you’re into catching your own dinner, grab a fishing pole, pack a lunch and devote a day by the banks of the Sabinal or Can Creeks. Finally, don’t leave the park without grabbing a picture at bizarre Monkey Rock – a strange rock crafted by the forces of nature into the shape of what looks like a monkey.

What to see and do around Lost Maples State Natural Area?

The Hill Country of central Texas is a distinctive and fascinating area, rich with history, hidden gems, and destinations for the whole family over and above Lost Maples State Natural Area. Head south a few miles and visit the Lone Star Motorcycle Museum for a unique history lesson on Texas-made motorcycles. Follow that with a tasting at Lost Maples Winery and a picnic from the onsite Farmer's Market – nothing better than dinner in a vineyard.

Besides the Lost Maples State Natural Area, there are 2 other outdoor destinations in the area worth exploring. Garner State Park is known for its swimming options and hiking staggering Mount Baldy, while a rugged landscape of canyons, scenic plateaus and peaceful creek beds await you at the Hill Country State Natural Area.

Good to know about the Lost Maples State Natural Area

The Lost Maples State Natural Area is a remote gem best experienced in the busy seasons of spring and autumn, or during the chilly yet less-visited winter. Summer brings sweltering heat, so wear light clothing and sunscreen, as well as bring plenty of water for yourself and Fido at this dog-friendly park.

Numerous full-service campsites are available for RVs and large motorhomes inside the park. You can also opt for its more rugged backpacking site for a truly immersive experience. If camping isn't your vibe, check out the quaint rental cabins in the town of Utopia. Due to the remote nature of the park, renting a car from San Antonio is the best way to get to and around the area.

photo by Aleksomber (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified

Lost Maples State Natural Area near San Antonio

Location: 37221 RM 187, Vanderpool, TX 78885, USA

Open: Daily from 8 am to 10 pm

Phone: +1 830-7966-3413

Ryan Thomas McNutt | Contributing Writer