Lost Maples State Natural Area is located about 5 miles north of Vanderpool, Texas and 71 miles west of San Antonio. The park sits along the Sabinal River in western Bandera County and far eastern Real County. The land for Lost Maples State Natural Area was acquired by the state of Texas in 1973 and 1974, and the park was opened to the public in 1979. In 1980, the Heritage Conservation and Recreation Service made the park a National Natural Landmark. This area along the upper Sabinal River was inhabited in prehistoric times. The recorded history of the area, beginning with Spanish explorations in the 17th century, identified a number of Indian groups, including the Apache, Lipan Apache and Comanche.
Much of the park's limestone bedrock is exposed on elevated terrain, which has a shallow, discontinuous cover of dark gray stony clay (Eckrant series). Most valley bottoms have deep, dark brown silty clay (Krum series) or clay loam (Pratley series). Deposits of gravel, sand, and loam (Orif-Boerne association) lie within a few hundred feet of the Sabinal River. All of these soils have free calcium carbonate throughout their profiles and are moderately alkaline. Despite a high clay content in most cases, poorly drained soils are too inextensive to be mapped.
Among the trees are American Sycamore (Platanus occidentalis), Bald Cypress (Taxodium distichum), Black Walnut (Juglans nigra), Pecan (Carya illinoinensis), Green Ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica), Black Willow (Salix nigra), Chinkapin Oak (Quercus muehlenbergii), Lacey Oak (Quercus laceyi), Texas Red Oak (Quercus buckleyi), Juniper, Florida Basswood (Tilia caroliniana) and Bigtooth Maple (Acer grandidentatum) (the latter of which was discovered far removed from any maple forest, and thus gave the area the name "lost maples"). Maple colors are brilliant unless autumn is mild; the Texas red oak gives a good display almost every year. This park is most crowded when the fall colors peak in November. Evidence suggests that th