Texas' Top Ten Roads
According to the Texas members of the Honda Sport Touring Association
1. TX Hwy 118 from Kent to Study Butte. With over 150 miles of riding
ecstasy, this road has it all: phenomenal curves, beautiful desert scenery,
and historic significance. The northern portion runs through the scenic, alpine
Davis Mountains and is filled with tight twisties and smooth sweepers. The world-renowned
McDonald Observatory, in Fort Davis sits at 6800 ft and is most famous for its
large multi-mirror telescopes and laser reflective measurements from mirrors
left on the moon by the Apollo program. Ft. Davis was originally a military
outpost to protect settlers from area Indians. The fort still exists and has
become a popular place to visit. Just outside Alpine, largest town in the area
and community seat, are the semi-desert Del Norte Mountains, and contains another
series of incredible curves to savor. Moving further south you drop into the
open, desert plains of the Chihuahua Desert, where it would seem one can see
forever. The distant mountain scenery of the Christmas and Chisos Mountains
is much more rustic, but colorful as you approach Study Butte and Big Bend National
Park, an out-of-the-way desert mountain region filled with unusual lava landscapes,
rustic mountain scenery, smooth, fast sweepers, and strict Park Rangers. You
can truly appreciate God's handy work while riding a road such as this one.
There are many wonderful vistas and around each curve lays another spectacular
2. El Camino Del Rio (TX 170) from Lajitas to Presidio. Leaving Study
Butte west you will travel through the once boisterous mining town of Terlingue,
now a ghost town with a population 25. Once a year "chiliheads" converge
on the small town for the International Championship Chili Cookoff. Lajitas
(Spanish for flagstones) is your gateway to "one of the prettiest roads
in America." A spectacular 50 miles through lush, twisting river valleys,
carved red and purple rock rising 1000 feet from the churning river. The road
is excellent; it twists and drops to the canyon floors along the roaring river.
Threading through the Bofecillos Mountains formed by two ancient lava flows
you will approach the "Big Hill." At a 15% grade it is the maximum
of any regularly traveled Texas highway. In Presidio, take time to visit Fort
Leaton State Historic Site & Big Bend Ranch State Natural Area to see one
of Texas' most unusual historic sites, a massive adobe fortress built in 1848
immediately after the Mexican War.
3. TX Hwy 16 between Llano & Bandera. There is very little traffic
on this 100 mile slice of asphalt Heaven, adding to the already pleasant terrain;
scenic, elevation changes, sweepers, tight & kinky switchbacks, beautiful
vistas, wonderful tree covered tunnels and gorgeous, clear rivers that invite
the occasional wading party. The trip requires a stop in Fredericksburg, settled
in 1846 by German immigrants. The birthplace of Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz,
there are museums and quaint shops up and down main street. One of the real
treats of this ride, if done first thing in the morning, is the wonderful Huevos
Rancheros breakfast waiting for you at the Old Spanish Trail restaurant in Bandera.
Take a side trip on TX 965 to Enchanted Rock for some real thrills.
4. TX FM 337 From Medina to Camp Wood, then TX Hwy 55 north to Rocksprings.
OK, we slipped in two, but it is hard not to fill the top 10 with all Hill Country
jewels. You really can not go wrong picking any of the FM (farm to market) roads
in this area. FM 337 is unquestionably among the most spectacular roads in the
area. Massive wooded steeps enfolding tiny, secluded valleys. Elevations range
from 1,500 to 2,400 feet with deep dramatic canyons cut by Frio and Nueces Rivers.
A roller coaster ride with rips up and over huge limestone karsts with numerous
places to pull off, and enjoy the spectacular scenery. Take your camera! At
the time of the first Spanish explorers, the area was inhabited by Comanche,
Apache and Lipan-Apache Indians. Constantly bringing to mind John Wayne movies,
the area is truly desolate, no signs of civilization for miles. You will want
to visit Lost Maples State Natural Area in Vanderpool. Especially in November
when foliage is in full color. The big tooth maples thrive only in small, protected
pockets in mountainous regions. Before you backtrack (we know you will) take
a break in Rockspring at the Angora Goat Breeders' Assoc. Museum.
5. FM 1431 from Marble Falls to Cedar Park. Named for Colorado River
waterfalls over marble outcroppings, Lake Marble Falls is in the northern portion
of the Hill Country. Pink and red granite has been quarried here since 1880
from Granite Mountain. FM 1431 offers breathtaking scenery both northwest and
southeast over winding curves and hills, with frequent glimpses of Highland
Lakes. A side excursion is Lime Creek Road running south from 1431 west of Cedar
Park connecting with 2769 at Volente. This loop around the Northeast side of
Lake Travis is the tightest, gnarliest, kinkiest, nastiest, hilliest piece of
2 lane blacktop ever. On top of that it has grand views of the lake. For the
non-believers, this road has found more converts than a Billy Graham revival.
6. Texas Hwy 4 from Palo Pinto to Granbury. Texas 4 (12 miles west of
Mineral Wells) south offers spectacular bluffs and scenery through the Palo
Pinto Mountains twisting and turning all the way to Santo. Visit the Palo Pinto
Museum and see an Old West-type jail and log cabins from the area's history.
Granbury was settled in 1854 and is situated on Lake Granbury. Have lunch in
the Nutt House, a historic restaurant and restored country inn dating from 1893.
Sightseeing cruises on the lake are available on the 73-foot Grandbury Queen.
7. FM 390 from Burton to Independence. Stop in Brenham on your way to
FM 390 and visit Blue Bell Creameries founded in 1907. Ice cream production
was two gallons a day in 1911. It is now the home of what many believe is the
ultimate ice cream in the US. With all the fat and calories to go with it. Independence
was settled by John Coles, one of Stephen F Austin's 300 original families in
Texas and was given its name in 1836 to commemorate independence from Mexico.
FM 390 east and west from Independence offers attractive scenery and exceptional
vistas. It is especially colorful around mid-April during the bluebonnet season.
Stopping points include the Ruins of Old Baylor University, Sam Houston Homesite
and an Antique Rose Emporium.
8. TX 852 southeast from Winnsboro. Typical East Texas - lots of piney
woods, gentle hills & curves. Winnsboro was founded in 1854 and sponsor's
one of Texas' best-known salutes to fall foliage, The Winnsboro Autumn Trails.
Held every weekend in October, Sightseers enjoy special mapped routes of east
Texas forestland and a variety of special events.
9. TX 224 north from Cold Spring. Located between Sam Houston National
Forest and Lake Livingston, TX 224 offers hilly sweepers and great scenery.
In addition to 224, several forest service roads through Sam Houston National
Forest offer close views of the tangled, undisturbed area known as the Big Thicket.
One such route is to Double Lake Recreation Area south of Coldspring about 4
miles via Texas 150 west, FM 2025 and a Forest Service Road.
10. TX 762 south from Richmond to Brazos Bend State Park. This open road surprises you with nice touring sweepers through lush cotton fields of
the Gulf Coastal Plains. The park is a must see 4,897 acres including Brazos
River bottomlands, beautiful live-oak woodlands draped by wild grapevines and
Spanish moss, oxbow lakes and marsh. There is even a large population of American
Alligators. The George Observatory within the park features a 36-inch telescope
that is open to the public on Saturday nights for star-gazing.
Texas Top Ten Roads according to the Texas members of the Honda Sport Touring Association
indicated on map above by aqua colored highlight.
Texas' Top Ten Roads
According to Ride Texas Magazine
1. FM 337, Hill Country, Medina to Camp Wood
2. FM 4, North, Jacksboro to Cleburne
3. State Highway 16, Bisects State, Antelope to Zapata
4. FM 1431, Hill Country, Round Rock to Lake Buchanan
5. Lime Creek Road, Hill Country, Nr Cedar Park to Austin
6. FM 335, Hill Country, Camp Wood to SH 41
7. FM 3090, Southeast, Navasota to Carlos
8. FM 170, Big Bend, Study Butte to Presidio
9. FM 118, West, Kent to Study Butte
10. FM 336, Hill Country, Leakey to SH 41
Texas Top Ten Roads according to Ride Texas Magazine
indicated on map above by magenta colored highlight.