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Explore a forest reborn

Explore a forest reborn
HARRY & LINDA KAYE PEREZ Drive along Park Road 1A with Everyday Journeys authors Harry and Linda Kaye Perez to view the recovery of Bastrop State Park after the devastating 2011 fire that scorched more than 32,000 acres and destroyed more than 1,600 homes.

It’s a resurrection story unlike any other.

On Sept. 4, 2011, 30 mile per hour winds toppled trees, causing them to fall on electrical lines in two separate locations near the Bastrop State Park. Sparks fell on dry leaves and grass and ignited a fire that would last until Oct. 29. In the end, the most destructive fire in Texas history had scorched more than 32,000 acres, including 96 percent of the 6,565-acre park, and destroyed 1,621 homes outside the park. Not only was the vegetation destroyed, the entire ecosystem of the park suffered. Fortunately, the historic cabins and other structures built during the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps were saved.

Flash forward to spring 2013. The park is recovering, with almost all areas of the park reopened, including campgrounds, cabins, and trails. As we entered the park off S.H. 21, we were greeted by a lush, green, 18-hole, 6,152-yard-long golf course, operated by the Lost Pines Golf Club, said to be one of the most scenic in Texas. Green fees start at $10; carts are available.

You can rent canoes for use on the lake for fishing or just enjoying a beautiful sunny day on the water. There is biking, hiking, and a fabulous pool that opens on Memorial Day. You can even rent a barbecue pit.

If you are not into camping, there are 13 cabins, accommodating from two to eight people. Cabin rentals start at $80 per night. They are made of stone and wood and some have spectacular views of the lake. They are completely furnished, including bed and bath linens, kitchen equipment and microwave, and have heating and air-conditioning. All have fireplaces. You have to take your own cooking and eating utensils. Cabin No. 12, the Lost Pines Lodge, sits on a bluff overlooking the lake and is the largest of the cabins.

Even though it will take a generation for full recovery, today the park is fully functional, beautiful, and enjoyable and the wildlife is beginning to return to the area. However, if you want to see the remains of the devastation of the 2011 fire, take Park Road 1A to the right as you enter the park. After you pass the Copperas Creek Camping Area, the view on both sides of the road will bring tears to your eyes. The fire brought about by natural causes makes the tragedy no less painful.

From the overlook at the far north side of the park, we looked down onto the forest’s floor, but the tall spirals of the burnt pines rising to the sky dominated the view. As we looked across the fields, tiny pink and orange flags stuck in the ground cover the landscape, looking like colorful wildflowers. They mark the spots where more than 2 million tiny loblolly pine seedlings have been planted. Someday, these new pine trees will dominate the skyline, erasing the sad memory of a tragic event.

Continue on Park Road 1A a short distance from the overlook to Park Road 1C. This will take you along a 12-mile scenic drive to Bastrop’s neighbor, Buescher State Park. The fire damage gradually lessens; green trees abound by the time you reach the other park. It is a magnificent drive through the Lost Pines of East Central Texas.

Bastrop State Park is located 89 miles from La Vernia and is open seven days a week. Entrance fees range from $2 to $4. Check the website for opening and closing hours which vary slightly between seasons.

Harry and Linda Kaye Perez are freelance writers from just down the road from Floresville. Together they share a passion for traveling and writing, and discovering the very best in all corners of the world. Email them at

Bastrop State Park
¢100 Park Road 1A, 
Bastrop, TX 78602
¢Park Office: 512-321-2101; reservations: 512-389-8900 


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