Garner & Lost Maples, Texas
I am quickly learning that falls and winters in Texas are the best times to explore the outdoors without dying of a heat stroke. Due to limited traveling during 2020, I feel like I’ve really had the chance to explore more of my own state and all it has to offer.
I joined my younger brother and his girlfriend (third wheel whoop!) on an overnight camping trip to Garner and Lost Maples State Parks in the beginning of December. We stayed one night in Garner, then drove to Lost Maples the following day. I had been to Garner about a month earlier with my husband, but I was curious to see how camping out there would be.
A little aside about me, I do not like camping. I did not grow up camping, so I am still not used to the idea that it’s safe to sleep outside in a tent. I never sleep well because I feel like somebody is going to come attack me in my tent in the dead of the night. Or because I’m cold, or because I’m uncomfortable on the ground. Either way, I’ve yet to have a night of camping where I actually sleep more than an hour or two. Going to Garner armed with warm clothes, two sleeping pads, and a sleeping back, I felt hopeful that this would be the time I liked camping.
Our afternoon at Garner before the sun set was pretty perfect. The sun shone high in the sky, giving us a beautiful clear day in the 70s to explore the park. We wandered along the Frio for a bit before scaling Old Baldy. We accidentally took a trail that was unmarked, so it ended up being way steeper than we intended. The trees lining the river were a bit less red and more brown than in November, but the other trees in the park had begun to turn more colorful. After trudging up Old Baldy, we hiked to the White Rock Cave then around to the Crystal Cave, making a big loop. This park has a good amount of climbing, especially for a Texas state park. Doing leg day in the gym before going on this trip was a bad idea.
We camped out at the Rio Frio campsites, which are located right off of the river. Our site was about 30 feet from the river. We arrived just before dark, so we had a bit of time to wander around in the cold water and enjoy the sunset. I will say, I did enjoy eating hot dogs and crescent rolls by a fire underneath the stars.
I ended up sleeping in my car because I couldn’t get comfortable and I felt too paranoid sleeping outside. So I didn’t do much sleeping. But it waking up in the morning to the cold, crisp air, the sun beaming overhead, and the pale blue river winding through the trees, all while holding a hot cup of coffee..I did like that.
We then drove to Lost Maples State Natural Area, which is about 40 minutes away from Garner. We stopped off at Postal Brews in the small city of Utopia. They had the most delicious baked goods, breakfast sandwiches, and coffee, as well as some unique little boutique-ish gifts.
At Lost Maples, we hiked the East Trail to the East-West Trail, which made a nice loop. Again, there was quite a bit of climbing at one point in this loop. It took us through the trees, along the Sabinal River, to monkey rock, along canyon walls, up to a scenic viewpoint, and then back down again. Lost Maples is full of colorful trees, rolling hills, and bits of clear streams and ponds. We really enjoyed our hike there.
https://tpwd.texas.gov/publications/pwdpubs/media/park_maps/pwd_mp_p4507_0074g.pdf à Lost Maples Hiking Trails Map
https://www.facebook.com/postalbrews/ à Postal Brews
https://tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/lost-maples à Lost Maples State Natural Area
https://tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/garner à Garner State Park
https://tpwd.texas.gov/publications/pwdpubs/media/park_maps/pwd_mp_p4507_0061q.pdf à Garner State Park Hiking Trails Map
https://tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/garner/fees-facilities/campsites à Garner Campsites