Things to Do

4 Fantastic Fall ‘Color Tours’ in the Texas Hill Country

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Tony Maples Photography


Autumn colors, you hear those words and you probably think of Vermont. You probably do not think of Texas Hill Country, at least not first. Let’s see if we can change that. Vermont covers 9,623 square miles. The Hill Country covers 14,000 square miles. “But”, you say, “Vermont has more hardwood trees, more natural beauty.” Take one or more of these Hill Country Autumn color tours and see if you still say that afterward.

Timing is everything where fall colors are concerned. Each of these areas could be at full color at the same time, or they may come into color at separate times. The amount, vibrancy, and duration of the colors is dependent on multiple factors, such as: How much rain received in preceding months; how hot the summer was, or wasn’t; how fast and how many cold fronts come in; and other things we probably don’t know about. The Lost Maples State Natural Area has a website that includes a fall color watch that is updated frequently.

1. Lost Maples State Park

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Photo: @raineelc via Twenty20

Lost Maples State Natural Area (near Vanderpool) is located a bit less than 90 miles northwest of San Antonio. It is an area of Bigtooth Maples that have grown there, alone and separate from all of the other maples in the world. It is an area that has such a grand beauty in the fall that it does draw significant crowds. Visiting during the color phase might best be done on a weekday because the area gets pretty crowded on weekends and parking is limited.

2. Guadalupe River

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Photo: @romadope via Twenty20

Ranch Road 1050 from a bit west of Utopia to US Hwy 83. This road curls back and forth through the Hill Country before it ends north of Concan. Along the way, it crosses the Frio River. Look for Sumacs (bright reds), Cottonwoods (blazing yellows), Chinaberries (pale yellows) and Sycamores (mixed oranges and yellows). Along the river you’ll find Cypress trees that turn a glowing orange.

3. Devil’s Backbone


Photo: @alesha_macarosha via Twenty20

A bit southwest of Austin is the Devil’s Backbone Scenic Drive. A prime part of this drive is from near Wimberley to near Blanco on Ranch Road 32. Start at Ranch Road 12 south of Wimberley, and follow it to near Blanco. This drive follows the ridge and offers up some of the best views in the Hill Country, especially in the fall.

4. Garner State Park


Photo: @Rupreht via Twenty20

This scenic drive from Camp Wood to Leakey has often been called the “most scenic” drive in Texas and is an excellent trail for fall color. The road climbs to some of the highest elevations in the Hill Country, up to 2,300 feet, and roadside lookouts offer great vistas of reds, greens, yellows and golds.

Now you know of four excellent tours that, at the right time of year and in the right year, rival the best of Vermont, and are a whole lot closer to home. Give you and your family a real treat this fall, go check out the fall foliage in our own Texas Hill Country.