From my shady perch on a high, breezy ridge, I scanned wooded slopes and rocky ledges fading to blue in the distance underneath a cloudless sky. It’s somehow comforting to know that hundreds of years ago, explorers sitting in this spot would have taken in roughly the same view of the rugged Balcones Escarpment landscape, now within the boundaries of Lost Maples State Natural Area.
In the November issue, writer Melissa Gaskill takes readers to Lost Maples State Natural Area, a state park in Vanderpool that is famous for its beautiful fall foliage. Senior Editor Loir Moffatt visits here with park interpreter Richard Treece and park superintendent Shawn Greene about fall color, how to avoid the crowds (visit during the week if possible), and the capricious weather-whims of Mother Nature.
As dusk settles over the campground, a faint chorus rises from the reed-fringed pond next to my tent. The sound gradually grows louder, high-pitched trills and chirps punctuated by occasional deep harrumphs and twangs. I crawl into my tent and fall asleep to this symphony created by amorous frogs and toads.
Take a hike. Rather than a brush-off, to me this sounds like an invitation to have a great time. Hiking offers one of the most accessible and versatile ways to enjoy the outdoors. Naturally, Texas boasts an amazing array of hikes for every taste and ability—from strolls of less than a mile to treks longer than 100 miles, through thick woods or open country, on high mountain slopes or smooth, flat shores. Here’s a selection of 10 of my favorites.