This month, get to know Bastrop County, a historic riverside community located in the heart of the Lost Pines Region. Bastrop, 30 miles southeast of Austin, is one of 11 counties on the Colorado River Trail, a 600-mile stretch of the lower Colorado River in Texas between San Saba and Matagorda counties.
Bastrop is growing rapidly, but still retains its small town charm and natural treasures, such as Bastrop State Park and McKinney Roughs Nature Park. Enjoy miles of piney woods hiking trails, camp grounds and water recreation. For some fun with the kids, swing by Smithville and visit the playgrounds and volleyball courts at Vernon L. Richards Riverbend Park. If it’s a scorcher, Lake Bastrop North Shore or South Shore parks provide a refuge for swimmers, boaters and fishermen. Lake Bastrop was recently ranked fifth on Texas Parks and Wildlife’s “Top 10 Best Bass Lakes in Texas” list. Lake Bastrop was also named a “Keeper Bass” and “Quality Bass” lake. Also, new restrooms are expected to open at North and South Shore by end of March.
For birders, migratory species to look for at McKinney Roughs include:
Black and white warbler
Black-throated green warbler
Ruby throat hummingbird
Black-bellied whistling duck
The northern bobwhite and bald eagles can also be found at McKinney Roughs. The eagles are nesting near the park and can be seen throughout the year along the Colorado River.
After all of that exertion, grab a burger at the Road House, conveniently located across from Bastrop State Park and voted best burgers in Bastrop and one of the top 50 burgers in Texas. For something lighter, enjoy sandwiches at the downtown Deli Depot. For dessert, try an ice cream sundae from the old fashioned soda fountain at Lock Drugs or homemade fudge and candies at The Sugar Shack.
While downtown, be sure to stop by the Bastrop Opera House on Spring Street. Constructed in 1889, this Bastrop staple has hosted touring companies, 1950s teen sock hops, and motion pictures during WWII.
The combination of history, the lost pines and small town charm makes Bastrop easy to fall in love with. Cindye Wolford, director of the Bastrop Visitor Center, has lived in Bastrop for the last 13 years and encourages everyone to visit.
“Downtown Bastrop gives you the opportunity to step back in time with Texas history evident on nearly every corner,” she said. “You can enjoy a performance at the 1889 Opera House, kayak or walk along the Colorado River, camp at Bastrop State Park, fish at Lake Bastrop, ride horses, visit a local farm...and the list goes on and on.”
The recently opened Museum and Visitor Center is a must see. Located in the heart of the historic downtown business district, the museum is working toward 12 new exhibits to tell the history of Bastrop County, from El Camino Real de los Tejas National Historic Trail to the Bastrop County Complex Fire in 2011. The museum's first exhibit tells the story of the Colorado River. Call 512-303-0057 for more information.
Bastrop also has several events throughout the year. On April 26-27, attend Yesterfest, a festival celebrating Bastrop’s pioneer heritage with live iron smithing demonstrations, Native American ceremonial dancing, and live music. Sign up for Pedal thru the Pines, a cycling event taking riders through Bastrop and Buescher State parks on March 9. And, don’t miss the Pine Street Market Days held the second Saturday from April through December. Local vendors sell arts and crafts, jewelry and other handmade items in downtown Bastrop.
Visit Bastrop to get a break from city life. For more information on Bastrop, visit the Museum and Visitor Center. Explore Bastrop and other counties on the Colorado River Trail, and be sure to connect with the Colorado River Trail on Facebook and Twitter.