It’s fall and you’ve been seeing pictures of wondrous places all around the country with fiery orange and candy-apple red leaves blanketing the tops of the trees. You’re probably feeling discouraged as you look at the green leaves or bare trees around you — thinking that your dear old Lone Star State doesn’t have colorful fall foliage. You may even be planning a trip to New England for a little fall beauty.
However, Texas does, in fact, have some of the most picturesque fall foliage in the country if you know where to look. So here’s TWO Ultimate Fall Color Road Trips (one in the Hill Country and one in East Texas) to give you all the brightly colored leaves and fall foliage fun your heart desires!
Here’s a little tip before you get started: Fall is a fickle creature. In Texas, fall foliage usually hits peak around the middle of November to the beginning of December, meaning the leaves could start changing colors as early as late October. Yet, even so, when fall color starts showing and how much there is depends on the yearly rainfall, as well as other factors. To make sure you’ll get peak red and orange beauty, call ahead to the parks you’re interested in or check their website to see what the color is like.
Hill Country Trip
Destinations: On this trip, you’ll be driving through some of the tallest peaks of the Hill Country. Your journey starts in the Lost Maples State Natural Area, one of the most beautiful spots to see fall color in the entire state. For the best view of the fall foliage, take the Maple Trail. Surrounded by fiery red and bright orange Uvalde bigtooth maples, you’ll feel like you’re in New England. Next, you’ll drive into Utopia to dine at Lost Maples Cafe, which was featured in the movie “Seven Days in Utopia,” and serves each plate of breakfast with a mason jar of fresh salsa. Be sure to take a slice of freshly baked pie to go.
You’ll take Ranch Road 1050 out of town for a scenic drive over the serene Sabinal River and through the tree-covered hills until you reach Garner State Park. At the park, you’ll see beautiful red Bald cypresses towering over the crystal waters of the Frio River. For a peek at Old Baldy without paying to enter the park, head to Magers River Crossing (one of the best kept Hill Country secrets) where the Frio trickles over County Road 350, a canopy of colorful trees provides shade and the majestic mountain is in full view in the distance. Find the full map here and the Lost Maples Foliage Report here.
And here’s a trip tip: If the fall beauty is too breathtaking to enjoy for just a day, make reservations to stay the night at the River Rim Resort in Concan. Just miles away from Garner State Park and Magers River Crossing, this resort provides amazing cabins, cottages and lodges with access to the stunning Frio River.
East Texas Trip
Route: Daingerfield, TX to Jacksonville, TX
Destinations: Take a journey through East Texas for fall color mixed with towering deep green pines. Starting at Daingerfield State Park, hike the Rustling Leaves Nature Trail to see the oak, maple and sweetgum trees reflecting in Lake Daingerfield like a gold and red watercolor painting. Next, you’re on to Lake Bob Sandlin State Park, which is also an East Texas trove of fall foliage as patches of red and orange pop up in the greenery around the lake.
Take Highway 37 for a scenic drive through part of the Autumn Trails of Winnsboro, TX, where they’ve been hosting a fall foliage festival since 1958. Next you’re on to see trails surrounded by reds, golds and oranges in Tyler State Park and the famous Tyler roses at the Tyler Rose Garden Center. If your stomach’s growling, stop by Coyote Sam’s Bar and Grille in Tyler for a Kobe burger so mouthwatering, it made Texas Monthly’s Top 50 Burgers List. Your last stop is at Love’s Lookout in Jacksonville, which — though small — provides a stunning bird’s eye view of the East Texas countryside. Find the full map here.
Here’s another tip: If you’re yearning to see even more fall beauty, continue on through Rusk, TX and then to Mission Tejas State Park in Grapeland, for just a bit more foliage combined with Texas history.