Buescher State Park

7.00 Miles
700 Feet
3point5stars (3.93)24
2point5stars (2.52)
3point5stars (3.98)
More Info

The trailhead resides at the back of the loop road that encircles the park lake.
The trailhead resides at the back of the loop road that encircles the park lake.
Getting there: From Austin head east on Highway 71 and drive past Bastrop toward Smithville. Turn left north of Smithville and head north on FM 153 for half a mile and turn left into the park. After paying for park entrance drive past the ranger station and turn right onto Park Road 1E. Drive around the small lake and look for the brown signs that mark the trailhead on the right. Parking is on the opposite side of the road.

The Hikes: Buescher State Park is a sibling of the nearby Bastrop State Park. Despite its close proximity and the fact that it also features a portion of the Lost Pines the park tends to host fewer visitors. If you crave hiking solitude you can use this to your advantage.

The trail starts off at the waypoint "Trailhead" and heads in a northwest direction for about 1/3rd of a mile before coming to pipeline right of way. This pipeline right of way is none other than the Longhorn Pipeline that has been in the news as of late. During my hike the pipeline crews just so happened to be working in the area, though not immediately along the trail.

Buescher includes a portion of the mysterious Lost Pines.
Buescher includes a portion of the mysterious Lost Pines.
Not wanting to give up the hike I continued to walk along the pipeline route and occasionally had to step over erosion control barriers. Off in the distance I could see some work being done on the pipeline even though it was Sunday. Thankfully after half a mile the trail proper continued again at the waypoint "Y-Right". After a short distance back into the forest I was able to leave the commotion behind me.

The trail soon turns more to the north. Although it begins to come into contact with Park Road 1C this does not hamper solitude too much. Traffic along the road is light. On nice days bicyclists may outnumber drivers. The road connects Buescher State Park with its sister Bastrop State Park. The route is quite popular with cyclists.

A half mile of the trail is along a pipeline right-of-way.  During my hike this pipeline was under repairs, making for a less than natural experience.
A half mile of the trail is along a pipeline right-of-way. During my hike this pipeline was under repairs, making for a less than natural experience.
Buescher State Park's shape somewhat resembles a gerrymandered Congressional district. One of the reasons for this can be found at the "Road Cross 1" waypoint. Here the trail crosses the entrance to the University of Texas cancer research facility. At some point in the past part of the park was set aside as a research campus. The remaining land snakes around this research park.

To complete the full trail loop always choose the right fork in any split in the trail. Although Buescher shares many characteristics with its sibling park it does not include as many ponds, the Houston Toad's preferred mating grounds. However there is one pond along the trail visible at the waypoint "Pond".

All creek crossings are easily done.  Some include a small footbridge to make the crossing even easier.
All creek crossings are easily done. Some include a small footbridge to make the crossing even easier.
Prior to my hike a strong storm had moved through the area and blown some trees down and weakened others. The quiet of the hike was shattered for a moment as one of the pines finally collapsed to the ground not too far off trail. Though the experience caused me to wonder about the structural integrity of some of the trees along the trail that I passed I realized that any danger was very remote and that my witnessing the event was in a sense a bit of luck.

Contrary to what the official trail map states the road crossing at "Road Cross 2" does not traverse a dirt road. That is now paved. However, the road appears to be still be quite lightly used and crossing is not a problem.

The Lost Pines are one of the most interesting hiking areas in Central Texas.
The Lost Pines are one of the most interesting hiking areas in Central Texas.
Once across the road the most interesting portion of the hike begins. The terrain on the northwestern side of the park is more rugged and heavily forested. In some places the falling pine needles are so numerous that they hang in clumps like moss on smaller trees and bushes. The steeper terrain is cut by a number of small creeks in this portion of the park. The trail crosses many of the streams, most of which will be dry except during rains.

The rougher terrain, denser foliage and fewer park visitors probably account for the group of deer that I saw on the back end of the trail. I crouched down and remained silent trying to observe them for as long as possible. Playful screams from bicyclists on Park Road 1C caused them to make a hasty retreat farther away from the road.

Strong winds had knocked many trees down, including some across the trail.  During my hike I heard another crash down not too far away.
Strong winds had knocked many trees down, including some across the trail. During my hike I heard another crash down not too far away.
The trail crosses Park Road 1C at the "Road Cross 3" waypoint and soon thereafter turns to the south. I turned right at the waypoint "T-Right" in order to extend the outer loop. Going left will rejoin the trail along the park road sooner. Much of the elevation gain is found in this portion of the hike. The hiker is propelled up and down ridges until the trail meets up again with Park Road 1C and very soon thereafter with the return route back to the trailhead.

During my hike on a pleasant Sunday I did not see one single other hiker on the trail. The only sign that anyone else was even out there was a wildflower book that I picked up on the way back to the trailhead, which I left at the lost and found desk of the ranger station. The book was not there on the way out, so someone MUST have been out there with me. Still, though I did not see other hikers I did see pipeline construction workers off in the distance and a few drivers and bicyclists along Park Road 1C. This hike provides ample opportunity for getting away from the crowds found on many area trails.

orange shroom
this was either a mushroom or fungus (Photo by jimmy peace)
pretty purple flower (Photo by jimmy peace)
cedar elm
the big cedar elm (Photo by jimmy peace)
rec area
one of the rec areas (Photo by jimmy peace)
Sunset at the Scenic Overlook
It probably is a lot better when there aren't as many clouds as there were on this day. (Photo by heatharcadia)
Long grasses
One of the rare open areas along the main trail (Photo by heatharcadia)
Fern growing in a tree
A common sight along the main trail (Photo by heatharcadia)
Moss on stone
On the CCC Crossover Trail (Photo by heatharcadia)
Loblolly Pine
These are what make the hike smell so nice (Photo by heatharcadia)
the creek
the creek (Photo by plectrudis)
Lichen and moss on a cedar log
Lichen and moss on a cedar log (Photo by plectrudis)
possumhaw by the creek
possumhaw by the creek (Photo by plectrudis)

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Log Entries
nice trail
By jimmy peace on 6/23/2019
Rating: 4stars Difficulty: 2point5stars Solitude: 4point5stars
Distance: 3.80 Miles Duration: 2 hours, 30 minutes

hiked from the big elm   to the park road, 

Good trail for observing plants and animals
By heatharcadia on 1/21/2017
Rating: 4stars Difficulty: 3point5stars Solitude: 3point5stars
Distance: 4.71 Miles Duration: 2 hours, 23 minutes

Most of the trails at this park are closed due to the fires, but the blue trail is still open and it makes the trip from Austin worth it. Most of the trail is shaded. You'll see a ton of plant and animal life (I saw many lizards and toads among fallen leaves) and it smells really nice.

There are a few times the trail crosses a small creek. Be aware of this: You'll get a little muddy and perhaps wet depending on how much the creek is flowing and how good (or not good) you are and leaping from shallow are to shallow area.

The short CCC Crossover Trail is also open. It's a super quick hike, but still interesting. The stonework is fun to look at, especially since portions of it have been overgrown with moss and lichen. 

The park is rather quiet. I know there were a lot of people there while I was, but I didn't see many others. (Perhaps they were all near the camping areas.)

At the end of the blue trail there is a scenic overlook, which is a nice place to watch the sun set. You can also get to this area by driving on the main park road.

Main Trail partially open - a good walk with interesting plants
By plectrudis on 1/2/2017
Rating: 3point5stars Difficulty: 1point5stars Solitude: 4stars
Distance: 3.00 Miles Duration: N/A

The first 2 miles of the Main Trail are now open, which means you can have a 4-mile hike, which is definitely long enough to make the trip worthwhile. Buescher offers a much lusher, greener experience than most Austin-area hikes, winding through the Lost Pines and following a small creek.  There were lots of lichens, mushrooms, true moss, and Spanish moss, as well as a number of grasses, cedars, and lots of yaupon.  And, of course, loblollies.  We didn't notice any fire damage, but we weren't really looking for it, either, and we were there late in the day and didn't explore the park beyond the one trail that's open.

The stretch we walked didn't have a lot of elevation changes (which was fine with us) and no dramatic overlooks, but was a pleasant, intimate walk with only a few other folks on the trail.

fires have done their damage
By jimmy peace on 7/17/2016
Rating: 2point5stars Difficulty: 1star Solitude: 4stars
Distance: 1.90 Miles Duration: N/A

sadly only the small trail near the lake is open, the rest are closed due to the fires, it will be a generation before it all comes back,   did go see the big elm tree tho

By crocodile235 on 4/21/2015
Rating: 5stars Difficulty: 3stars Solitude: 3stars
Distance: 2.90 Miles Duration: N/A

At the recommendation of a ranger, I hiked a portion of the Pine Gulch loop and skipped the Woodlands trail.  The Pine Gulch loop has a couple of optional cutoffs, which helps you set your chosen distance - perfect for me that day since I had somewhere to be.  I took the Roosevelt's Cutoff.  I'll be back soon to hike the whole thing.  This is a very pretty trail thanks to the great pine trees.  You're hiking on a carpet of pine needles and smelling the intoxicating scent of pines along your entire hike.  The Bastrop fires didn't affect the pines in this area, so you can almost forget that ever happened.  :(

Nice quiet hike in the Lost Pines
By rodavenport on 7/4/2014
Rating: 4stars Difficulty: 2stars Solitude: 4stars
Distance: 9.40 Miles Duration: 3 hours, 45 minutes

Nice trail, its not real strenuous but its nice and shady for a mid summer hike. My mileage was higher than the offical trail map because I did some doubling back here and there. I was really surprised at the low number of people hiking on the trails and the low volume of people in the park.

Nice improvements to the trail!
By BANDA on 12/17/2013
Rating: 4stars Difficulty: 2stars Solitude: 4point5stars
Distance: 8.25 Miles Duration: 2 hours, 30 minutes

I went out to ride my mountain bike on the trails today (yes, the park allows biking as well as hiking on the trails now.) and to find some geocaches. It was a beautiful Fall day and I really enjoyed the trails. They finally moved the portion of the trail that used to be on the pipeline ROW! It is now much more scenic and interesting. They also added a new route to part of the Pine Gulch loop. Be sure to pick up a copy of the excellent new trail map from headquarters. Granted it was a weekday, but the whole trail was very quiet and I only passed 3 other people!

Big Lollipop
By Lone_Star on 4/28/2013
Rating: 1point5stars Difficulty: 1point5stars Solitude: 3stars
Distance: 6.80 Miles Duration: 2 hours, 12 minutes

After the 2nd day group hike of McKinney Roughs, there was still a lot of daylight left so I decided to head over to Buescher State Park and hike the trail there solo.

The trail system is a 7.7 mile lollipop-shaped trail. The trailhead is well marked and there are a number of direction signs along the trail.  The main trail (blue trail) is the "stick" of the lollipop and the Pine Gulch Loop (red trail) forms the "lollipop", although there is a CCC Crossover Trail (yellow trail) that is a cutoff trail you can take if you want to hike a shorter loop.

My plan was to hike the blue and red trails.  Everything went according to plan, except on the way back in I inadvertently took a wrong turn onto an unmarked trail.  I was hiking briskly and didn't refer to the paper trailmap provided to me at the Park HQs, so I didn't realize I was off course until the unmarked trail dumped me out at a scenic overlook off Park Road 1C.  At that point, I looked at my GPS and noticed I was parallel to the blue trail so I hiked down Park Road 1C until I came to the Gas Line utility right of way clearing.  I took a left down the clearing until I was able to find another undocumented trail that led me back to the blue trail.  The end result of straying off course was I hiked a larger "lollipop" and almost a mile less distance. :(

Overall, the trail is nice.  There is a small pond along the red trail and it takes you through a nice wooded pine forest, but otherwise there isn't too much to see.  It is a nice escape for a few hours, though, and a did see a couple of white tail deer.

Budding Plants
By Rosalind Franklin on 3/10/2013
Rating: 4stars Difficulty: 1star Solitude: 3stars
Distance: 7.00 Miles Duration: N/A
I usually like this hike in the summer because t is so shady and relatively cool under the pines, but a friend needed to identify invasive species for her professor so I tagged along. The drought has done some real damage out here to the oaks and the pines; lots of downed wood everywhere.

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