South-central Texas is home to three of the biggest cities in the state: Houston, San Antonio, and Austin. And centrally located within a few hours of all of them is the scenic Lost Pines area. Buescher State Park is a 1,000-acre park nestled right in the heart of Smithville in Lost Pines.
The CCC constructed many of the buildings and structures in the park in the mid-1930s. Plagued with a recent history of record-breaking heatwaves, this park was nearly burned to the ground back in 2011. Large swathes of loblolly pines were destroyed, but a few patches were saved. This gives the park its unique landscape and interesting history.
If you plan to do a bit of RV camping at Buescher State Park, you’ll find yourself in awe of the scenic views. You can hike the trails, fish the lake, and even mountain bike to its sister park, Bastrop State Park. Just rent an RV in Bastrop County today to get started.
While swimming is prohibited in Buescher State Park Lake, fishing is heartily welcomed. RV campers can bring up to two poles and cast their lines into the 25-acre lake. Per Texas law, no fishing license is required for anglers fishing from the shore. Largemouth bass, sunfish, and catfish are a few of the aquatic catches you're sure to find in this well-stocked lake. Anglers may only fish from the shoreline or any small human-powered boat. No motorized boats or wakes are allowed.
You'll have a hard time getting lost on any of the six hiking trails in Buescher Park. Four of them are under half a mile long, and the longest one maxes out at three and a half miles. Always make sure to travel with someone or let someone know where you’ll be. Follow standard safety rules and general common sense when hiking either alone or with a partner. The Pine Gulch Trail is the most challenging of the trails and will take you up through pine forests and past remnants of the park’s famous wildfires of 2015.
The areas between Buescher State Park and Bastrop State Park are private lands, and camping there is not permitted. However, biking on the trail roads between the parks is encouraged. Along the way, you'll go up and down the hilly areas of this paved, 12-mile road. The park recommends that only experienced bikers attempt the road. Buescher State Park also has around eight miles of wooded bike trails available if you don’t want to leave.
Camping at Buescher State Park
Buescher State Park RV campers have a good set-up here. This state park campground is a bit more primitive in relation to other parks, but it still has 32 RV campsites that come equipped with 20- and 30-amp electrical hookups. All sites are back-in and come with water hookups, a fire ring and grill to get dinner cooking, and a picnic table to gather around and enjoy. An additional 20 sites offer water hookups only.
Amenities in the park include dump stations, hot showers, and public bathrooms. There's a ranger station nearby as well as a rec hall, park store, and a playground for the kids. Motorhome campers will have to use the data on their phones because there's no Wi-Fi available in the park itself, but most cell phone providers will have coverage in the area. A few of the sites are ADA-accessible. Make sure to call ahead and reserve such a site if a member of your group requires it.
Exploring the Area
They say the best way to see a county jail is as a visitor. Old haunted jail houses such as the Fayette County Old Jail: Texas Heroes Museum might seem scary to some, but if spooky history is your thing, this is the place to be. A short drive from the park, located in La Grange, this well-preserved building is 135 years old and has been out of commission for years. It has a fascinating history. It's rumored that old skeletons and ghosts of forgotten prisoners still roam the cells to this day. Get spooked and soak up some Texan history.
Campers of Buescher State Park might be a little discouraged to hear that there are no available swimming spots in the park, but fear not! Just head next door to the Bastrop State Park swimming pool to get your daily dose of water fun. The swimming pool at Bastrop Park is managed by the Bastrop YMCA and charges an entrance fee if you're not physically camping in the area or don’t have a YMCA membership. The pool provides swim lessons, free swims, laps, and classes.
Do you love country music, bars, and just generally having a good time on the town? The legendary 6th Street in Austin is where heroes like Willie Nelson got their start. People travel from around the country to get the chance to drink, dance, sing, and revel in the nocturnal party life in the area that locals call the Dirty 6th. Burger joints and high-profile restaurants line the street, ready to feed you some of the best local food in the area. If you’re looking for a fun, rowdy time, check out 6th Street in Austin.
There are a few gas stations in Smithville proper that can help you on your way. You're centrally located between three of the biggest cities in Texas, or you could travel past Austin into the Old West country.