Looking for fall foliage near Austin can be frustrating, but there’s one spot that always delivers: Lost Maples State Natural Area! If you’re in or around Austin, Texas, there’s no need to jet off to New England for that coveted fall foliage experience. Nestled just a short drive away, the Lost Maples State Natural Area offers an enchanting autumn spectacle. Here’s why it’s the must-visit destination for all fall enthusiasts.
Approximately a two-hour drive from Austin, Lost Maples State Natural Area is an easy day trip for those in the state’s capital. It’s perfect for families, friends, or solo travelers looking for a quick autumn getaway.
37221 RM 187, Vanderpool
Open daily from 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Adults are $6 and kids 12 and under are free. Reserve your spot in advance to ensure you don’t get turned away at the gate.
During the months of October and November, the park is very crowded on weekends. Parking is limited to 250 vehicles. Visitors are encouraged to come on weekdays and reserving your spot online ahead of time is crucial.
Check the website to verify dates/times. Please note the entire park closes on certain days in January for hunting.
Why Visit Lost Maples
Lost Maples is renowned for its Uvalde Bigtooth Maple trees. Unlike most parts of Texas, this area harbors these trees, which erupt into a riot of reds, oranges, and golds each fall. The brilliant colors juxtaposed against the Texas limestone canyons create a breathtaking tableau.
Apart from the famed maples, this natural area is home to a myriad of plants and wildlife. Keep an eye out for white-tailed deer, armadillos, and even the rare golden-cheeked warbler. As you tread its trails, you’ll be enveloped in nature, making the visit a rejuvenating experience.
With over 10 miles of hiking trails, ranging from easy to challenging, there’s something for every kind of hiker. The East Trail will take you to a 2,200-foot elevation with a stunning vista, while the Maple Trail is a shorter, family-friendly option that’s wheelchair-accessible.
There are so many trails that you couldn’t do them all in one visit! We had a hard time deciding which one to do since we were only there for a day. We eventually went with the Monkey Rock Trail. Pros: you get to see a naturally formed monkey made out of rock! So cool! Cons: it was a long hike for my kids and we ended up having to carry our toddler for most of it. Bring lots of snacks and water if you attempt this hike with younger kids. It’s worth it but come prepared with snacks and treats to keep them motivated!
I would definitely wait until the end of August/November to go to this park if you’re looking for fall foliage. We went early/mid October and didn’t see many leaves changing color yet.
Make sure you snag reservations online before you go! especially in the fall when the park is most popular.
Bring hats, sunscreen, bug spray, water, and snacks. Wear sturdy hiking shoes and bring a backpack carrier (no strollers).
Camping and Star Gazing
For those wanting to extend their stay, Lost Maples offers camping facilities. As night falls, the clear skies away from city lights make it an ideal spot for stargazing. Imagine a night under the stars after a day of enjoying the fall colors!