2009 Quick Hill Country Trip
Hill Country Trip
Day 1 - Friday
Day 2 - Saturday
I left out of Kerrville very early Saturday morning just before 8 AM. The sky was overcast, and the temperature was in the low 60s. Very few people out, but there were a number of motorcycles in town Kerrville. Most of them were at breakfast joints along Tx-16. Turned right onto Tx-27 and headed to Ingram. Saw a few groups of motorcyclist gathering at some unique looking buildings at the junction of Tx-27 and Tx-39. Tx-39 follows along the Guadalupe River starting in Ingram, and then when the Guadalupe splits, it follows the South Fork of the Guadalupe River. Tx-39 is a very scenic river-side road that generally follows the Guadalupe River Valley. There are about 10 river-crossings along the first 10 miles or so. Most of the crossings have been rebuilt , but there are two that were under construction at the time I went through; those both had one-lane bridges. Honestly, when I was riding it, the slope was so gentle that I really didn’t know until after I was done for the day that I had gone from around 1500 ft to 2400 ft, since other than the view of the river there really was no other outside visibility of the landscape, and most of the terrain around it is flat. Most of the bends were gentle and nothing exceptionally technical that I remember in this part. I was following a group of two sport-trikes and two sport bikes most of the way through this way. They turned south on Ranch Road 187 towards Vanderpool. I continued on the last bit of Tx-39 to US-83. All in all Tx-39 was generally well maintained two-lane black top.
US-83 of course is a US maintained road. It had a very wide right of way, although a lot of the area I rode was two lane with road construction on the right-hand side (eventually 4 lane?). About half-way to Leakey, was the fairly aggressive downhill run and a lot of good valley views. There really is not much to say, all the curves were 50 MPH that I remember. The last 5 miles is fairly flat as it comes into Leakey.
Leakey is a fairly interesting location; it basically is a ranch city in the middle of a fairly large valley somewhere around 1500 ft. It has 1 gas station (that I found) that is also a grain market. But there are also a number of places to eat and drink. Most of them are open to the outdoor air. Got there the first time around 9:18 AM.
After getting gas (I really didn’t need it, but since I knew gas isn’t very common in the loop) I headed back north on US-83. About a mile north of town is the beginning of Ranch Road 336, the first of the “Twisted Sisters” or “Three Sisters” that I took (most people start with 337). The first part of 336 is fairly relayed valley riding. After 4 or 5 miles is a fairly hard climb up to the ridge. The first part of the ridge is a nice over-look that I stopped at around 9:35 AM. The next 8 miles or so the road stays near or along the ridge line. 336 also has an interesting oddity.. Cattle Guards. At least one was right at the end of a curve. They are not a huge issue on a motorcycle. I think they were must more narrowly spaced than ones I’ve seen before, or else I was just moving fast enough to not notice. After the first 5 or so I was wondering if there was a point, other than to keep wild animals out of the ranch areas, but finally one corner I came around I found 5 cows munching on grass on the side of the road. Luckily they were not in the road, nor was I going fast enough I couldn’t stop if I had to. All in all there were some of the sharpest curves I experienced on this ranch road. I was passed by a number of bikes that were going significantly above the recommended speeds. For 336 I was going below all the posted speeds, and over-all wasn’t really a favorite road by any stretch of the imagination other than for the view.
At the end of 336 at the north (back at 2400 feet) is Tx-41. There is nothing on Tx-41. Well okay there was 1 house that was selling hot food. Honestly if I had the money, and could find the land along there, I would open up a gas-station, restaurant, and motel/bed-breakfast place with covered garages for motorcycles and a wash station that uses wait recycling. Okay, yes I don’t know why I thought that much about it, but was thinking it would be nice to have a stop up there. After the 8 or so miles, is the top end of Ranch Road 335.
Ranch Road 335 surprised me a bit. The end of 336 is flat for a fairly long way, but almost as soon as you get on 335, you run out a ridge and see the terrain and then begin a fairly steep decent. 335 has much fewer sharp turns. Instead the road features a lot of up-and-down movement. It has been nicknamed “roller-coaster” for that reason, in the camel-back style. The only oddity I had on this road was the harvester. I came around a corner and saw a pickup with its hazard lights on going slow, so naturally I slowed going “what?” Sure enough just beyond in the turn when I came around a bit more was a harvester piece of equipment. It took up both lanes. Luckily where I encountered it there was ability for it to move to the side of the road enough for me to get by. I don’t even want to know what would have happened if I came across it just a half-mile before. Most of the top section of 335 (and well 335 and 337 for that matter) is sheer lime stone on one ride, a two lane road with no shoulders (minimum width road) and a guard rail and a sheer fall on the other side. I have no idea what I would have done if I had come across the harvester on one of those sections. One 335 gets into the valley (couple miles in) it follows along the valley. Again more limited sight-distance from up-and-down and not corners. Got passed by a number of sport bikes here doing well over the speed limit. Again I was going very conservatively here. The views were not quite as spectacular, as all you can see is the peaks around you. One funny thing was my “range” indication. On the uphill 336 I was showing around 100 miles range, then as I came down 335 at one point it jumped to 260 miles or so when I clutched in and was just letting gravity do it all. Even when I had it in 3rd (or so) and was engine breaking it was still amazingly high at times.
At the end of 335 it puts you onto Tx-55 back into Camp Wood. Camp Wood is a much larger town than Leakey. A whole 822 people compared to Leakey’s 387. Camp Wood had more of a town feel compared to Leakey. I didn’t see as much as far as “motorcycle” like places there. They did have a gas station as well. Originally I was going to take Tx-55 south to continue my day from there, but decided to complete at least the circle, so jumped on to Ranch Road 337 out of Camp Wood back to Leakey.
The Camp Wood to Leakey section of RR337 is very nice. It had a fairly good mix of curves of reasonable sharpness and vertical change. I liked that it had both sheer wall on left and right during the section. The oddities I had on this road was a broken down car (luckily they found an area where there was a little bit of a shoulder (they were about half in the lane still, but passable) and there were bicyclists coming West as I was going East. Also in the inter-ridge section I passed the guided ride out of the Three Sisters Rally that was going on. It was not huge, maybe 20 bikes or so. This section of 337 also has a very nice run-out on one of the curves that is very scenic. I turned south on US-83 to continue with my other plans for the weekend, about 11:45 AM.
but some day would like to ride the remaining sections of 337 from Leakey to the Tx-16 terminus. Of course I would also like to stay longer to see Stone Hinge II and Fredricksberg and Lukenbach and other such places. But this trip was also to do some visiting of counties and cities for the ABCs of touring, and I did not want to stay north in an attempt to miss the rain (which I still got, but from the other side.. gulf moisture instead of the front).
Day 3 - Sunday