The Resilience of Nature: Bastrop State Park, Texas

By guest blogger Valeka Cruz. Photos Copyright © Valeka Cruz.

Bastrop State Park and neighboring Buescher State Park are located 30 miles south of Austin, Texas and are home to the “Lost Pines,” an isolated region of loblolly pines (yes, we have pine trees in Texas!).

In 1997, the park was given National Historic Landmark status. The beautiful craftsmanship of the buildings and the environmental work done by the Civilian Conservation Corps contributed to the park receiving this award. Bastrop is one of only seven CCC parks in the country to be given that distinction.

Purple wildflowers, Texas

Vibrant wildflowers!

In September 2011, the park and surrounding area experienced a devastating wildfire. In addition to people losing their homes, acre upon acre of beautiful pine-covered land was scorched.

Approximately 96% of the state park was affected by the fires. Fortunately, firefighters and volunteers were able to save the cabins and facilities that were built in the 1930’s by the CCC.

Rediscover Bastrop State Park newsletter

News of the fire

Current fire conditions

Sign for current fire conditions in the park

I hadn’t been to the park in quite a while. The last time was a couple years prior to the fires while I was training for a road race. My best friend and I decided that we were long overdue for a visit so we took a daytrip to the park earlier this month.

I remember doing training runs through the beautiful pine-lined trails and getting lost in the scent of pine needles that would fall into my hair as I made my way through the park. It was such a wonderful experience every time I visited. I didn’t realize how much I missed the park until my recent visit.

Pine needles

Pine needles

Since the wildfire, the park has undergone such a revitalization. The remains of the fire are still evident in the landscape and recovering foliage.

Burnt pine trees in Bastrop State Park

Burnt pine trees

Charred tree roots

Even the tree roots got charred

Burnt tree trunk

Charred but still living!

As we hiked through the park, I was mesmerized by the resilience of nature. Everywhere I looked, there was evidence of the park renewing itself. It gave me a feeling of hope and joy.

Wildflowers peeked out from between scorched rocks and took root along the trail, and the American Beautyberry bushes were in full bloom.

Yellow wildflowers


American Beautyberry

American Beautyberry

Bridges over previously closed trails that had been destroyed in the fire had been rebuilt.

Creek bridge

Rebuilt bridge

Help Restore the Lost Pines!

How park visitors can help

I was amazed that, even though it had been subjected to some horrible conditions, nature was thriving. It was beautiful to feel like I was a part of it on that very day. Even some critters came out to look around!

new growth after a fire

Left: new growth along the creek | Right: Grasshopper

Stepped path

A path to the future

Valeka Cruz

Valeka & Karlee


Valeka Cruz (@runningonheavy) is a freelance writer and blogger living happily in Austin Texas with her three fur babies. Her weekly blog, Running On Heavy, provides health and wellness motivation along with life lessons. She loves chocolate, hiking, laughing, hot tea and, especially, writing (not necessarily in that order, depending on what kind of a day it is).

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  1. Valeka, I loved reading this post and appreciating your wonderful photos with such profound captions. My two favourites: “Charred but still living!” and “A path to the future.”

  2. Valeka..loved his hub. I have been through Bastrop many times on my way out to the Hill country. I love that part of Texas.

    Very informative hub and loved the wonderful photos.

    Look forward to reading more of your articles 🙂

    • Hi, Teresa! It really is such a beautiful area of Texas and so many people are unfamiliar with it. I hope I did it justice with my photos! I’m so happy you enjoyed my article. I look forward to contributing more for Milliver’s Travels in the future!

  3. Love nature’s resilience and your article about it, Valeka!
    The ending photograph is just PERFECT <3

    We visited the Vaser Valley park here in Romania last month and I was surprised to see how much people care about protecting the park — cutting trees is very limited and there are "farms" where they grow baby pine trees. Can't wait to include this in my next travel article 🙂

  4. Judith Shaw says:


    Loved your visit to the revitalizing Bastrop Park. When I lived in Australia’s Blue Mountains we had a few bush fires that really scoured out the trees. Within a few days green was sprouting. Sometimes I wish we humans had such bounce-back ability.

    Your wildflower photos are lovely.

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