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Nature

View of lake with large oak tree on bank.Buescher State Park sits in the ecological region known as the Post Oak Savannah. About 100 miles of rolling, post oak woodlands separate this loblolly pine woodland from the East Texas Pineywoods.

Lost Pines

Over 75,000 acres of loblolly pines, known as the Lost Pines ecosystem, spread across sections of five counties on the Texas Coastal Plain. A portion of this pine forest is in Bastrop and Buescher state parks.

These “Lost Pines” are the westernmost stand of loblolly pine trees in the United States. Pollen records indicate the pines have grown here for over 18,000 years. These pines are genetically unique, having adapted to 30 percent less rainfall than loblollies in East Texas and adjacent states.

Sandy and gravelly soils with a sub-surface layer of water-preserving clay help to create an environment where the loblollies can flourish. Although the climate has become drier over time, this soil has let the pines thrive. The Lost Pines are still susceptible to drought, however.

In 2015, the Hidden Pines fire torched much of the park’s pine forest. Hike on the Pine Gulch Trail to see the renewal and regrowth that follows a wildfire.

Wildlife haven

A mosaic of pines, oaks, shrubs, grassland and mixed flowering plants create a diverse environment here. The park is home to many species of wildlife, including the largest of the woodpeckers: the pileated woodpecker.

With its beautiful woods and tranquil lake, the park is a great place for bird watching. Birders have identified about 250 species of birds.

Mammals include white-tailed deer, raccoons, opossums, bobcats, armadillos, rabbits, squirrels and small rodents.

Fish for catfish, bass, crappie and perch, and rainbow trout in the winter.

Houston toad

Toad looking at camera on white background.The seasonally moist and sandy soils of the Lost Pines provide critical habitat for the largest remain­ing population of Houston toads. The Houston toad was recognized as an endan­gered species in 1970.

Loss of habitat in its historic range, largely due to urbanization, has led to a marked decline in numbers of this species in recent decades.