Lost Maples State Natural Area, Vanderpool, Bandera County, Texas

Lost Maples State Natural Area is a long way for a day trip. But I had heard it was a good place to Find fall in Texas so I am heading here in August. I want to check out the hiking to see if it is something that momma can do.

Lost Maples lies along the Canyon of the Sabinal River in west central Texas.

The first 2100 acres of Lost Maples was purchased by the state in 1973 and 1974 and opened as a state natural area in 1979. The state purchased an additional property in 2009 to bring the total acreage of the park to 2900 acres. The land was explored by the Spanish in the 1700’s. It was frequented by the Apache and Comanches until well into the 19th century and they continued to pose a threat to civilization and the ranchers in the area.

The Sabinal River actually starts in Lost Maples as a series of fissure springs running out of the limestone walls. It then runs south then east into the Edwards Aquifer where it ends sixty miles later by draining into the Frio River. Much of the Sabinal River runs underground. There are also three small creeks in the park that feed the Sabinal.

Beautiful Drive into Lost Maples

Along the Sabinal is a portion of the old Comanche Trail. The waterway was originally known as the  Arroyo de la Soledad, the “Stream of Solitude” to the Spanish.

Lost Maples has about 12 miles of trails and I did every step of it on this hot humid day. But not by choice.

The adventure I had mapped out consisted of the Maple Trail the East Trail and the West Trail which would have been an eight and a half mile loop.

I started out on the Maple Trail.

Maple Trail

This trail intersected with the East Trail and a long steep slog up and out of the Canyon. Before starting that slog you pass Monkey Rock.

Yep I can see it!

Next to Monkey Rock was an interesting Grotto.

The Grotto next to Monkey rock.

The trail was wide and easy to navigate. There is a half mile spur trail on top past the primitive camping area to an overlook.

Sabinal Canyon from the overlook

I descended to the bottom of the Canyon to the junction of the East and West Trails. Here is the parks swimming hole in what is known as “the Ponds”.

the ponds….nope not swimming in there!

As I started out the West Trail and having the word loop in my mind, I took a wrong turn. You see off the West Trail is the West Loop Trail. This adventure added a 2.5-mile lollipop loop to my original plans. I did get to the highest point in the park and saw one of its many springs. The 2200-foot-high point was much higher than I had been able to go on foot since coming to Texas, except when we were at Big Bend. At Big Bend we drove into the Chisos Basin and the Window Trail although higher, was relatively flat.

View from the parks high point

And I really didn’t realize my mistake until I came back to the same creek bed I had hiked into the area through. Ugh! I still had miles to go and was running low of water. Wish I would have filled up at the spring.

Spring on the West Loop Trail

I finally made it back to the Parking area amid my cramping legs and oh no! I have to walk another quarter mile across the hot asphalt on this 100 degree plus day because stupid me… I parked near the beginning trailhead not the end. I’ll put this in my files not to do again!

Another view from the overlook park offices are on the left side
Sabinal River Canyon

I think momma can do at least the East and Maple Trails it would only be about 5 miles. This is a beautiful area. We’ll come back in the fall!

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