Friday, July 3, 2015

Lost Maples State Natural Area (SNA)

Donna and I took our trailer to Lost Maples State Natural Area on Monday, June 22, and spent 3 nights there. Only a few state natural areas are scattered around the state -- as opposed to parks -- and they are set aside for minimal development. If you look at a map of Lost Maples, for example, you will see that the road stretches only a short distance into the park, and all facilities are located just within the entrance to the park. The bulk of the park is left undeveloped.

Headquarters building located near park entrance

Lost Maples is one of the more scenic parks in the state. In the fall, the area comes alive with the vibrant colors of the Uvalde bigtooth maples. Most of the maples are found in the rugged limestone canyons carved by the Sabinal River and its tributaries. If you are willing to venture into the back country, you will be rewarded with beautiful views and scenery.

Canyon wall behind restroom indicates type of scenery you can expect in the park.

Developed camping is limited, with only 30 campsites available. There are no full hookups, but sites do have water and electricity with modern restrooms and showers located in the campground. A trailer dump station is located just inside the park's entrance, near the first low-water crossing. There are 40 primitive camp sites scattered among 8 camping areas within the park's nearly 2,200 acres. All of the primitive camp sites are walk in, meaning you pack in and pack out on foot.

Our campsite -- # 23 -- had good shade. Note covered picnic table and fire ring.

The campground. Notice the place is virtually empty. This is looking west from our campsite.
From just west of our campsite looking east. Notice hills surrounding us.
The park is very popular during peak color in the fall, especially on weekends. The web site posts when these times are. During the remainder of the year, it is fairly easy to get a site there. Activities are pretty much limited to enjoying the fall colors, hiking, and bird watching. Fishing and swimming are also possible in the park's streams.

Day use area in the park.
The rugged limestone has been sculpted by the Sabinal River, which runs along at the base of this hill.

Clear pool of the river is a great place to cool off on a hot summer day.

Low water crossing on the Sabinal River just beyond the headquarters. This photo looks upstream.

This is the scene behind our campsite. One evening as the sun was working down, Donna and I sat and watched a pair of mountain sheep scamper across this hill. Donna used her binoculars to get a clear view. They reminded us of the pair we had seen in "Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada" last October. Since mountain sheep are not native to this area, I suspect there is an exotic ranch on the neighboring property. The park boundary ends at the base of this hill, so the hill itself is on private property.
On our first night there, only one other spot in the in the campground was occupied. On the second night, tent campers arrived to occupy 3 separate sites while a Casita trailer from California pulled into a site a few spots away from us. On our last night, numerous other campers arrived.

During our stay here, we could not receive a TV signal (we only have cable and aerial), a radio signal, or phone service. This is an isolated area in a canyon-like setting. There is a small store about 4 miles down the road in Vanderpool that sells basics and gasoline. Utopia, with a population just over 200, is the nearest town, located about 16 miles south. Leakey is a long 20 miles west. Kerrville is about 50 miles north and east.

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