The wildfire that swept through Bastrop County in September and October 2011 affected 96 percent of the 6,000-plus acres of Bastrop State Park.
But for those who have enjoyed the park in the past, or those curious to visit now, there’s plenty of good news to offset what happened last year.
The 1930s-era Civilian Conservation Corps-built cabins — which earned the park National Historic Landmark status — were saved through concerted firefighting efforts throughout the seven-week battle.
Crews have been at work making the park safe in the areas affected by the fire, and the park is already beginning to see new plant growth emerging among the surviving loblolly pines that define the Lost Pines region, with most of the birds and animal species native to the park returning as well.
And with the exception of a few areas of the park that were heavily affected by the fires, the park is back to its pre-fire accessibility.
“The park staff has been working hard along with American Youth Works and various other volunteers to make Bastrop State Park safe for visitors to return,” said Bastrop State Park site manager Roger Dolle. “They have also been working very hard to start the restoration process of the Lost Pines. The park facilities are completely open, as well as 90 percent of the trails.”
He added, “We have rerouted many trails and the park is a new place to see. The fire has created some beautiful vistas and opened up the visibility of the terrain. Most people who have visited Bastrop State Park in the past have never been able to see the topography, much less even know it existed.”
For bikers, the park offers a 12-mile scenic ride along Park Road 1C that makes up part of the MS-150 route between Houston and Austin that many serious bike riders throughout the state have completed as a biking rite of passage.
Bastrop State Park Lake offers fishing and canoeing — canoes are available for rent — while swimmers can access the CCC-built swimming pool, which is now managed by the Bastrop YMCA.
Golfers can play the park’s Lost Pines Golf Club-managed 18-hole, 6,152-yard course, and campers can choose from a range of campsites, or can opt for a slightly less rustic experience by staying in one of 14 of the CCC cabins. The cabins are very popular, though, so it’s best to book well in advance.
The park is open every day throughout the year, with a $4 entrance fee for adults and a $2 driving fee to drive-through only on Park Road 1C for drivers and passengers 13 or older. For those planning frequent trips to the park (or other Texas state parks), annual passes are available for $70 at any Texas state park.