Bastrop’s 2nd Annual NatureFest Celebrates 2nd Paddling Trail & Hosts USCA Aluminum Canoe Championships on Sept. 27th

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Bastrop’s 2nd Annual NatureFest Celebrates 2nd Paddling Trail & Hosts USCA Aluminum Canoe Championships on Sept. 27thBASTROP, Texas — City and state officials will come together on Saturday, Sept. 27 as the “Most Historic Small Town in Texas” hosts the official launch of the second Paddling Trail in Bastrop County, the second annual NatureFest and this year’s 40th annual United States Canoe Association (USCA) Aluminum Canoe Championships.

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department will introduce the “Wilbarger Paddling Trail,” a 14-mile-long route along the Colorado River that begins at the FM 969 Utley Bridge and ends at Fisherman’s Park in historic downtown Bastrop. The trail will become the eighth inland paddling trail in Texas and the second of six potential trails designated on the lower Colorado River. The El Camino Real Paddling Trail, also in Bastrop County, was launched in 2007.

The second annual NatureFest, a day-long community event, will be held to celebrate the rich ecosystem that makes up the Lost Pines Region of Texas.  The event is from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Fisherman’s Park (at Willow and Farm) in downtown Bastrop.  Admission is a $3 donation for adults and children 12 and under are free.

Sponsored by Environmental Stewardship, a nonprofit organization whose purposes are to protect, conserve, restore, and enhance the earth’s natural resources,  funds will be used to establish a future “Red Bluffs Paddling Trail” and several more trails downstream  to Smithville, Texas.  The fundraiser will also be used to develop the Lost Pines Recreational Hike & Bike Trails at the end of the El Camino Real Paddling Trail.

The Texas Canoe Racing Association will host the 40th annual United States Canoe Association (USCA) Aluminum Canoe Marathon Championship on Sept. 27 at 10 a.m. and Southern Pro Championships Race on Sept. 28 at 9:30 a.m.  Registration for both events will be at 8:30 a.m.

These national championships have not been held in Texas for more than ten years, and it will bring the country’s best paddlers to the lower Colorado River from across the nation and abroad.  National Canoeing Champion, Peter Heed will conduct a paddling workshop Saturday afternoon and will speak at the Lower Colorado River Authority’s (LCRA) McKinney Roughs facility that evening at 8 p.m.

“We are honored to be working with TPWD again to launch this second paddling trail and to reconnect families with the great outdoors at NatureFest,” said City of Bastrop Mayor Terry Orr.  “We are also thrilled to be home to the first USCA Championships to be held in Texas in over a decade, which will help generate more awareness of the Lost Pines Region and the lower Colorado River.”

The City of Bastrop is partnering with TPWD’s Bastrop and Beuscher State Parks and LCRA’s McKinney Roughs Nature Park to coordinate the nature-related activities for NatureFest.  In addition, many other organizations will participate in the event including the Texas Master Naturalists, Bastrop County Audubon Society, Boy Scouts of America, Lone Star & Austin Sierra Club, Pines & Prairies Land Trust, Leave No Trace, and Texas AgriLife Extension Service’s Wildlife Habitat Evaluation Program.

The nature festival will provide a variety of outdoor family-focused activities, including guided nature hikes, canoe/kayak paddle events on the Colorado River, rock climbing, archery, wildlife arts and crafts from Texas artisans.

The Capital of Texas Zoo will present the “Mr. Slither,” reptile show and provide a petting zoo.  Other vendors will feature some of the newest technologies for energy conservation and “green” living.  Live music will play throughout the day including Bill Oliver — “Mr. Habitat,” “The Strollers” who feature tunes for children and local fiddler favorite “Sean Orr & Texas Gold.”

A new element to NatureFest this year is the Kid’s Challenge experiential nature activities for children ages 5-13 who can earn patches for participating in 6 of 24 activities, such as partaking in the digital photo scavenger hunt contest, dip-netting for critters, and identifying bird & bugs.  Children will learn how to make miniature terrariums, hats out of newspaper, seed balls and origami toads.  Following instruction, parents and children can try out a kayak and take a short twenty minute ride down to the festival site.

Storytelling about the rich history and lore of Bastrop in the early 1800s will take place, including the famous ghost tale of Josiah Wilbarger and how he survived being scalped by Comanche Indians and left for dead just upriver from Fisherman’s Park in 1832.

Following NatureFest, from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m., festival goers can walk downtown to Bastrop’s “Meet Me on Main Street” event where they can enjoy food, music, shopping and local fare.  At 7:30 p.m., the historical 1889 Bastrop Opera House will feature a special performance entitled “The Lady with all the Answers,” a play by David Rambo.  Tickets for the play are $10, dinner-and-play tickets are $25.  Call (512) 321-6283 for reservations or visit

About the Lost Pines Region
Bastrop County — The Lost Pines Region — The Legend
The lost stand of Loblolly Pines known as the Lost Pines Region is situated primarily in Bastrop County, Texas, with a large portion between Bastrop and Buescher State Parks.  The region represents the westernmost tract of the great southern pine belt of the United States, and these lost pines are believed to have been in the area for more than 18,000 years.

Many wonder how those Loblolly Pines ended up “lost,” so far away from their botanical brothers and sisters in East Texas.  Local legend is that Native American runners from East Texas planted seedlings in the Piney Woods to comfort a homesick girl who had married into another tribe far from home.  Botanists offer a more scientific explanation: the pines were left over from the Ice Age, when pine forests covered much of the land that became Texas.  Visitors can decide which answer they prefer as they discover the natural magic of the Lost Pines Region.

Texas Historic Small Town Charm
Bastrop, Texas:  Bastrop’s roots run deep with its historical downtown district, the tranquility of the Colorado River and beautiful view of the “Lost Pines” surroundings.  In 1979, the National Register of Historic Places admitted 131 Bastrop buildings and sites to its list, earning Bastrop the title of “Most Historic Small Town in Texas.”  With a rich array of classic Texas folklore and architecture, downtown Bastrop represents a unique blending of the old and new.  The historical Main Street, a Texas Main Street Community, is lined with century-old structures housing antiques shops, specialty stores, galleries and restaurants.

About the TPWD Paddling Trails Program
The Texas Paddling Trails program was created to develop public inland and coastal paddling trails throughout the state and support these trails with maps, signage and other information.  The trails provide well-mapped accessible day trips in a variety of settings for all levels of paddling experience.  There are currently seven coastal paddling trails in Texas, and the Bastrop trail will be the eighth inland paddling trails, with several communities in the process of applying for participation in the program.  Complete information is available on the TPWD Web site at