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Park Pick: Lost Pines Lakeview

Buescher State Park is more than Bastrop’s little sister.

By Russell Roe

Mark Lee's fish photo earned a place on the wall of the office at Buescher State Park when he caught a 23-inch bass in the park’s lake. He hopes to catch something worthy of the office wall again.

“I’ve got my kayak down by the water,” he says. His campsite, No. 19, is one of the waterfront sites at the park, and he heads out each morning to do some fishing.

“We love this little park,” he says. “I love the fishing. I love the hiking. The park’s got some nice trails.”

His wife, Cherry, adds, “The little cities around you are nice, too,” referring to the Lost Pines towns of Smithville and Bastrop.

The Lees traveled to Buescher for a week of relaxation before the Halloween rush began for Cherry’s costume business in San Antonio.

“If I don’t get a little rest before October, I’ll fall down on the job,” Cherry says.

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The Lees regularly travel to state parks, and they have the patches to show for it. Patches from parks such as Goose Island, Goliad, Blanco and Brazos Bend adorn a makeshift flag they travel with, and the Buescher patch has a place in the top row.

The colorful patch captures the appeal of Buescher, showing the lake, a tent, a pine tree and the entrance portal out front built in part by the Civilian Conservation Corps.

Buescher State Park is sometimes thought of as the little sister or brother to Bastrop State Park down the road, but Buescher has plenty of appeal on its own. In addition to camping, fishing and hiking, the park offers mountain biking, birding, geocaching and canoeing. The 25-acre lake (stocked with rainbow trout in winter) serves as the focal point of the 1,017-acre park. Pine trees cover the northern part of the park, and in the main southern part of the park, where the lake is, oaks and cedar elms dominate with a few scattered pines. Buescher sits in the Lost Pines region of Texas, a loblolly pine woodland isolated from the main body of East Texas pines.

The CCC built some handsome stone buildings in the park, including a group rec hall and a picnic pavilion. Rough stone and hardwood timber were used to reflect the natural setting of rolling hills and pine forests.

Buescher’s limited-use cabins — with air conditioning and heat — are newer additions to the park.

“Our cabins are very popular,” says Buescher customer service rep Kathy Clayton. “They overlook the lake and have a beautiful view.”

Campsites and screened shelters provide other options for visitors.

Nearly 8 miles of wooded trails wind north toward Bastrop State Park. Interim site manager Robbie Boyer says almost all the trails have reopened thanks to long, hard work by park volunteers after the 2015 Hidden Pines fire. The park miraculously escaped the 2011 wildfire that damaged most of Bastrop State Park, but still suffered damage in its northern parts from the 2015 blaze.

Park Road 1C connects Buescher and Bastrop and is a favorite with cyclists. The 12-mile scenic route takes cyclists up and down hills and through many twists and turns as it makes its way through the pines.

The secret’s getting out about Buescher’s charms.

“It’s a hidden little gem — or used to be,” Clayton says.

The park is located 2 miles northwest of Smithville on FM 153. For more information, call (512) 237-2241 or visit www.tpwd.texas.gov/buescher.

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