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Nov 2011 cover image

Park Pick: Lost Pines Getaway

Buescher State Park attracts campers with trees, trails and a lake.

By Sheryl Smith-Rodgers

Now that fall’s arrived, Tish Murphy will call her sister in Katy and schedule a family meet-up at Buescher State Park near Smithville. Then she’ll get back on the phone and reserve screened shelters for everyone.

“We love the park’s two cedar shelters,” says the Schertz mother of three. “Instead of pitching a tent, we just throw our sleeping bags and air mattresses on the floor. The shelters are totally enclosed and very secure. We also love how they’re nestled beneath the pines and just a short walk from the lake. It’s so peaceful to sit outside, look at the lake and listen to nature.”

Prefer a tent or maybe a real bed? No problem. Buescher State Park — a 1,017-acre getaway tucked into the state’s beautiful Lost Pines — can accommodate. (Buescher miraculously escaped the ravages of the Bastrop-area wildfire that destroyed most of Bastrop State Park in late summer.)

“We have campsites with water only or water and electricity,” says Superintendent Cullen Sartor. “In addition to four screened shelters, our three one-room cabins have bunk beds, a small refrigerator and microwave oven plus air conditioning and heat.”

Quiet and secluded, Buescher (pronounced “bih-shur”) State Park was developed in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps and surrounds a 25-acre lake rimmed with towering hardwoods. Anglers regularly snag catfish, crappie, perch and largemouth bass. In the winter, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department fisheries personnel stock the lake at least twice with rainbow trout. Year-round, many visitors bring canoes and kayaks or rent some from the park.

Almost 8 miles of wooded trails start in the park and wind north toward neighboring Bastrop State Park. The main trail roughly parallels the first 2 miles of Park Road 1C, a 12-mile scenic road that links the two parks.

“My favorite part of the hiking trail is the Pine Gulch Loop that takes you from the top of a ridge down into a gulch, where you’re completely surrounded by pines,” Sartor says.

Biking and birding top the list of other things to do at Buescher. Park Road 1C’s dips and hills challenge even the most hard-core cyclists. Along the road, trails and lake, visitors may glimpse pileated woodpeckers, one of more than 250 bird species that have been documented in the park.

“However, if you’re just looking for a place to hang your hammock and hear nothing but birds singing and the wind blowing through the trees,” Sartor adds, “then Buescher’s the place to be. It’s very tranquil here and easy to slip away from the stresses of life.”

Buescher State Park is located 2 miles northwest of Smithville off Texas Highway 71. For more information, call 512-237-2241 or visit www.tpwd.state.tx.us/buescher. (Nearby Bastrop State Park was scheduled to be closed at least through November.)


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