Thursday, November 26, 2015

Hiking and Camping at Lost Maple Natural Area

We finally visited the famed Lost Maple this past beautiful Sunday. It was a great trip despite less than spectacular colors and a very cold night for camping.

Driving to Lost Maple

Instead of the beaten I-35 route, we took the less traveled roads in the hill country, going west first on I-20, then turn to US-83,  followed by US-377, US-83 to get to Lost Maple Natural Area in Vanderpool, TX.

The drive was smooth. Once we got off I-20, the highways were almost empty - we had the roadway all for ourselves most of the time. The road  hugging the hills, went up and down, with vast forest, huge ranches with cattle, horse, donkey, bison, .....along the way. We got a real sense of what hill country means.

Trails and Foliage

Lost Maple has two big loop trails - east trail (4.6 miles) and west trail (4.9 miles), plus a western loop trail at the west end of the park. We hiked on east trail on Sunday afternoon and west trail on Monday morning.
Water and Blue sky make everything looked great
A rare scene of  red maple leaves this year
Big maple trees had orange/brownish leaves due to wet/warm autumn
Maple tress by a pond

Trails at Lost Maple have a good mix of difficulty levels of easy and strenuous.  The strenuous  portion of the trails is naturally formed by loose gravels on dried creek bed on steep slopes. We got good exercise and good foot message by hiking on the trails.

rugged trail

There were not a lot of people on the trails for both times, we fully enjoyed splendid views - Blue Sky, bright sun shine, still spring formed ponds, rock formations.

On Monday morning we were the only hikers on the trail in the early morning for a time, it was so quiet, as we stood still to look around, we heard the maple leaves tumbling down - "ti ta" as a fallen leave hit a leave after another, "ti ta" and "pa" - finally reached the ground.

Monkey Rock

We reserved a primitive camp site but were so very lucky to get a regular site upon check in, a big relief for us all as the closest primitive camp site requires at least a mile of hiking to reach.

We quickly set up the tent  in less than 10 minutes and then went hiking on the east trail.

anchoring the tent with stake
Put on Canopy
Mission Accomplished
It was around 5:30 pm when we got back from hiking, and it was getting pretty cold already.

We were prepared for this cold night - bought firewood, brought extra blankets and winter coats.

camp fire
I started the camp fire while Lily cooked dinner.

We had our sausage, shrimp, and tortilla under bright moon shine accompanied by the sound of the running creek by our tent.

Our sleep was fidgeting interrupted by coldness and baby's cry from a nearby site. When I got up sometime after midnight for relieve, I enjoyed the spectacular  night sky, full of stars when the moon was long set. We were surprised to find everything covered in frost in the morning. But we survived a very cold night.

What an outdoor experience!


1. Primitive camping will require backpacking. We under estimated the difficulty of primitive camping.
2. Cold weather camping is more enjoyable if one is prepared for the cold. We should have brought all of our skiing related clothes, especially heavy socks.

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