10/07/2011 05:41 pm ET | Updated Nov 28, 2011

Texas Fall Foliage: A MapQuest Guide

Texas fall foliage features brilliant hues and spectacular scenery. The changing colors of leaves in autumn is one of nature’s most beloved rites of passage -- and makes for one of the most popular and inexpensive getaways for families. As part of LeafQuest -- a MapQuest series helping leaf peepers across North America find easy and rewarding destinations -- here are three recommended spots for viewing Texas fall foliage. — Staff

Lost Maples State Natural Area

The Lost Maples State Natural Area in Texas is smoking-gun evidence that there is phenomenal foliage as far south as the Lone Star State. (It's not exactly "Lost," though, as the park receives 200,000 visitors annually.) Maples (natch!), red oaks and lacy oaks turn from light greens and rich emeralds to bright reds and vibrant yellows. The park also boasts of "a large, isolated stand of uncommon Uvalde Bigtooth Maple, whose fall foliage can be spectacular." While taking in the view, visitors can make camp or go hiking, fishing and picnicking in the midst of all the leaf action. More adventurous visitors can carefully scope out the limestone canyons, steep slopes and natural springs.

37221 FM 187, Vanderpool, TX 78885 | Get Directions

Caprock Canyons State Park & Trailway

Visitors to Caprock Canyons State Park & Trailway will find bright crimson and golden cottonwood trees come autumn. But those are not the only colors on display in this topographical wonderland: emerald greens contrast with varying hues of light and dark browns, as well, as the park boasts that its "most outstanding attractions" are its "exposed geological formations and erosional processes." While fall-foliage viewing can be done by mountain biking, hiking or horseback riding along one of the park's 13 trails, keep an eye out for wildlife: Caprock Canyons is also home to the official Texas state bison herd and golden eagles.

FM 1065 Road N, Quitaque, TX 79255 | Get Directions

Big Thicket National Preserve

They like things big in Texas, and Big Thicket National Preserve doesn't disappoint. The preserve lives up to its name in terms of flora variety: there are ten distinct ecosystems here, including habitats for pine and cypress trees, peaceful meadows, a hardwood forest and an authentic blackwater swamp. The area’s biodiversity -- including 85 tree species and countless other shrubs, grasses and flowering plants -- makes it a spectacularly natural mecca for fall foliage. Look for the little sourwood, which has bright scarlet foliage, among other species. By hiking, biking, driving, horseback riding or canoeing through the preserve, visitors can see the stunning peak of wildflower season overlap with the vibrant start of fall foliage season.

6044 FM 420 Rd, Kountze, TX 77625 | Get Directions

Official Texas video of the Lost Maples State Natural Area, featuring wildlife experts and fall-foliage shots.

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Want other great fall-foliage destinations? Check out more LeafQuest.