In the early 2010s, a pair of disasters almost literally wiped this Texas State Park off the face of the earth. A 2011 fire burned about 96 percent of the park, and a 2015 flood collapsed the dam at Bastrop State Park Lake. But Bastrop State Park still attracts many visitors.
Some come for the outdoor activities. Camping, hiking, swimming, and geocaching are usually on the agenda. One of the more popular trails takes visitors through the redevelopment area. In 2012, organizers began planting some four million trees with the goal of complete reforestation by 2040.
Other visitors come to see the park’s man-made facilities. Starting in 1933, Bastrop State Park was one of the Civilian Conservation Corps’ first major projects. In many ways, it served as a model for the other CCC state and national parks around the country. Many of these facilities are available for meetings, family reunions, quinceaneras, and other large events. Come with your RV and enjoy both the natural and the the man-made sights at Bastrop State Park.
RV Rentals in Bastrop State Park
Transportation in Bastrop State Park
From Austin, take the Bastrop Highway (Highway 71) southeast to Highway 21. You can then stay on Highway 21 until it becomes Highway 71 again and then go northwest on Tahitian Road (Highway 150) until you reach Park Road 1. Or, you can take the Chestnut Road (Highway 150) cutoff and go through Bastrop. We recommend quick stops at either Paw Paw’s Catfish House or Anita’s Mexican Restaurant, both of which are at Chestnut and Main, as well as Bastrop Film Alley, which is near Chestnut and Highway 95. Then, stay eastbound on Chestnut until you reach the Highway 150 cutoff and Bastrop State Park.
From San Antonio, take Interstate 10 east to Highway 304. The intersection is just past Harwood. Then, go north on Highway 304 until you reach Highway 21. Then, proceed east through or around Bastrop and into the Park.
From Houston, you can take the same Interstate 10/HIghway 304 route. However, we recommend taking Highway 71 northwest from Glidden until you reach Bastrop. This route takes you through the thriving metropolis of La Grange (population about 5,000) and some other picturesque, one-light Hill Country towns.
As the Park is in redevelopment mode, RV parking is rather limited. There is parking near the campsites as well as the currently-empty Bastrop State Park Lake.
Campgrounds and parking in Bastrop State Park
Campsites in Bastrop State Park
Piney Hill Camping Area
This area has twenty-five full-hookup spots, and it’s not even the largest or nicest RV campsite in the Park. However, it is the site that’s closest to the aforementioned walking trails and lake. Amenities include a May through September swimming pool, children’s play area, RV dump station, and wheelchair-accessible restroom/shower facilities.
Copperas Creek Camping Area
With seventy-eight full-hookup sites, CCCA is not just the largest RV campsite in Bastrop State Park. It’s one of the largest such facilities you’ll find at any Texas state park. Fehr’s Overlook is only about a tenth of a mile away. Amenities include a sheltered day-use picnic area, wheelchair-accessible restroom/shower, and lots of parking.
Deer Run Camping Area
These twenty-one tent sites have water hookups. The sites are basically next to the Piney Hill swimming pool.
There are five buildings (four bunkhouses and a meeting area) in this campsite, which is on the other side of Deer Run. Bastrop State Park has a number of other day-use facilities as well. Most of them are updated CCC structures.
Creekside Camping Area
These six primitive sites are adjacent to a parking area and across a stream from the Copperas Cove Camping Area.
Pioneer Village Cabin Area
Thirteen cabins are available to rent. Each one is quite large and has full electrical/water service.
Seasonal activities in Bastrop State Park
Lake Mina & Golf Shelter
A number of walking trails crisscross this area near the Park entrance. Walking trails are basically unpaved sidewalks. They are flat and wide, but there may be the occasional pothole or bump. So, they are ideal for wide-wheeled strollers. Don’t forget sunscreen and bug repellent. This part of the Park was largely untouched by the fire, so the “Lost Pines of Texas” moniker definitely applies. Lake Mina is a hand-dug lake where fishing is allowed, but no swimming. You do not need a license to fish at a Texas state park, and at Lake Mina, you do not even need your own pole. Loaners are available. Until 2015, a golf course wound among the pine trees. Today, the golf shelter is pretty much all that is left. A number of guided hikes are available, including the occasional Zombie Apocalypse walking tour.
A 1.7-mile moderate trail runs from a parking area to one of the highest points in Bastrop State Park. Moderate trails require some special equipment, such as hiking boots, and some special skills, such as prior hiking experience. But overall, moderate trails are not that difficult. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department recommends one quart of water per hour and that hikers tell other people where they are going. The Scenic Overlook trail is rather steep, so be advised. En route to the overlook, visitors pass by the original CCC hike-in picnicking area. The overlook is pretty much right on the line between the open and closed areas of the Park, so visitors get a good view of everything.
Uncontrolled fires destroy forests, but carefully-controlled fires help them grow. This part of the Park puts this principle into practice. Eventually, this group of saplings and small trees will grow into a pine forest. Guided tours are available, and they greatly enhance your understanding of this process. This spot is roughly at the halfway point of the Scenic Overlook Trail.
Largely because of their age, ferns are slightly more fire-resistant than pines. So, this stand of fern trees is mostly intact. When we say “age,” we aren’t kidding. Some fern tree fossils date back over fifty million years. The 0.3-mile Piney Hill Spur is the best way to reach this serene spot. The moderate trail begins at a camping area. Hikers pass by some Carrizo sandstone, which the CCC used to develop Park facilities in the 1930s.
Another CCC hotspot is also one of the best overlooks in the Park. There’s a quaint, yet sturdy, CCC rain/weather shelter along this trail, because the weather in Central Texas often changes rapidly. The Overlook is not quite as high as the main scenic overlook, but it is a great place to view fern and pine trees and dream about what the Park may look like in another generation or so.
Historic Water Fountains
The original Park day-use area is at the end of Piney Hill Spur. The CCC facilities are excellent examples of national/state park architecture that’s present in many other locales throughout the United States.
Lost Pines Loop
Autumn is a good time to tackle one of the most difficult trails in the Park. TPWD "difficult" trails are not quite mountain-climbing trails, but they are in the same ballpark. Hikers need considerable experience and perhaps a guide as well. This 4.3-mile trail runs from Harmon Road in the east to the Scenic Overlook in the west.
Do not try to see these endangered animals during the spring mating season, as their habitat is closed during this period. But fall is a very good time to view them. The later dawns and earlier dusks often bring out these frogs in force, particularly in the Loblolly pines areas of the Park. Scientists estimate that only about 3,000 of these frogs remain on the planet.
Treasure hunting is not particularly fun in the summer as kids quickly complain about the heat. But the spring and fall is a different story. You are not hunting for doubloons, but for small items in boxes. Use your GPS-enabled device to locate them. Then, replace the geocache swag that you take out, sign the logbook, replace the container, and move on to the next site.
Park Road 1C
Grab your mountain bike and head off on a 12-mile jaunt along this road. Park Road 1C puts the “hill” in “hill country.” Visitors navigate through both developed and recovering areas of Bastrop State Park. If you go in the winter, there might even be a light dusting of snow on the ground, making the ride even more scenic. Deer and other wildlife are usually around as well.