By REVER App
So you’re looking for the best Austin motorcycle rides… Deep in the heart of Texas lies a region known simply as “Hill Country”. This largely remote area of central Texas encompasses an area of land that includes Austin to the east, Junction and Rio Frio to the west, Lake Buchanan to the North and San Antonio to the South. Characterized by its rugged limestone and granite terrain underlying the semi-arid flora and diverse wildlife, this region is home to many rolling and curving roads, cut through stunning landscapes that are unique to this area of Texas. As the REVER staff’s resident Texan/Austinite, I can tell you that the rides we have compiled below will allow you to experience Austin and the surrounding Texas Hill Country in one of the best ways possible – on a motorcycle! Navigating and exploring new routes is easy with REVER. Just download the app, select your route and hit the road!
Tips for Riding in Austin and the Surrounding Hill Country
When it comes to motorcycling, every region has its unique hazards to be aware of and prepare for. Austin and the surrounding Texas Hill Country are no different! While the weather can be ideal for riding during the fall, winter, and spring, be aware that temperatures can reach dangerously high levels during the summer. Plan accordingly by utilizing well-ventilated gear, adequately hydrating yourself well ahead of time (days in advance), carrying water with you, and avoiding riding during the hottest hours of the day. Sunscreen on any exposed areas of skin is a must. While on a long hill country ride a few summers ago, I made the mistake of not applying sunscreen to the thin bands of skin exposed at the wrists (between my gloves and jacket sleeve) and ended up with blood-red bands of sunburn on my wrists for days to come! Additionally, be sure to check your planned mileage against your motorcycle’s fuel capacity, as there are many long stretches of road with no gas stations in sight.
Austin Hill Country BBQ Loop
Departing from the famed 6th Street of Downtown Austin, this route leads northwest of town along some of the best motorcycle roads that the Austin area has to offer. At a length of just under 210 miles and containing both easy-going and winding sections of road, it is well-suited to the rider who is seeking both scenic and spirited riding. That being said, this ride is approachable for virtually all skill levels, but novice riders should exercise caution in the turns and all riders should be sure to ride within their own personal limits. Finally, be sure to go light on breakfast prior to this ride, as you’ll be wanting to load up on some of the killer Texas barbeque that you’ll be coming across later on in the day!
Start off by breaking away from Downtown Austin via 6th Street, followed by a short jaunt north on the Mopac Expressway and a left turn onto Farm Road 2222. You’ll quickly leave the cityscape behind as you wind along the scenic roads lining the north shore of Lake Travis. After passing through Jonestown and Lago Vista on RM 1431 you’ll head into the Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife park, one of the nation’s largest urban-area wilderness preserves. Continuing northwest you’ll ride along the south shore of Buchanan Lake as you approach Llano. Once in town you can make a lunch stop at Cooper’s Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que. If you’re not hungry just yet, start back Southeast on 71 before stopping in at Opie’s BBQ in Spicewood, but to knock out this Hill Country loop in true Texas fashion, park it and eat a bit at both barbeque joints! Belly full, it’s time to head southeast and back into Austin through Bee Cave and Barton Creek before turning north onto South Congress Avenue. With the Texas State Capitol building in view at your twelve o’ clock, cap off your day of riding by stopping in at Revival Cycles to check out some custom bikes and quality riding gear, Alan’s Boots if you feel the need to update your western wear compendium, The Continental Club to enjoy a drink and some live music with your riding buddies, or any of the other many South Congress staples that await your discovery.
Lime Creek Road / Balcones Loops
Containing more than 200 turns in a ride of under 75 miles, this twisty route on the north side of Lake Travis and the Colorado River is just as scenic as it is sporty. As an Austin-based motorcyclist I can say that if you enjoy using the full width of the rubber that holds your motorcycle to the ground, then this loop is for you. Use some caution while eating up these curves, as the surrounding limestone hills and cliffs are known to crumble and leave some hazardous patches on the road surface below.
Begin by heading southwest on Ranch to Market Road 2769. Before long, the Colorado River and it’s bright chalky shores will come into view. After passing through Volente and turning north onto Lime Creek Rd, the winding of the road intensifies and opportunity for spirited riding grows. A brief cruise along the outskirts of Cedar Park will bring you to Whitestone Blvd (RM 1431). Now head west through Jonestown and into Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge, a preserve of more than 32,000 acres that contains some of the Austin area’s best motorcycle roads. The Balcones Preserve is also home to a number of endangered bird species and an abundance of Texas Hill Country wildlife. Immediately after passing Travis Peak, turn right on Cow Creek. This winding section of road will lead you to the northernmost point of the ride. Turning left on RM 1431 will start you back southeast and once again past Travis Peak and Crow Creek. After rolling back through Jonestown and turning south on Anderson Mill Rd, you will have the option of re-riding the twisty stretch of Lime Creek Rd that you enjoyed at the start of the ride, but this time in the opposite direction – check your time and make the call! Both Lime Creek Rd and Anderson Mill will lead back to your original starting point.
Luckenbach BBQ Loop
Let’s go to Luckenbach Texas! This scenic and easy-going 66 mile loop is perfect for riders of all skill levels who are looking to get a casual taste of Central Texas, and it will leave you with no questions as to why “Willie, Waylon and the Boys” had a soft spot for this area of Texas Hill Country. Although the ride can be easily completed in under two hours, you and your riding buddies can easily make a half-day out of the route thanks to the interesting places and good eating found along the side of the road.
With this ride beginning and ending in Luckenbach, you’ll have twice the opportunity to take in everything that this charming, wild-west-esque town has to offer. Though if you’re planning on beginning your ride earlier in the morning, be sure to have breakfast ahead of time as the Luckenbach Feed Lot doesn’t open until 10:00 AM. Rolling out of town on Luckenbach Town Loop, head southeast on Ranch to Market 1376. After making some headway along the gentle curves of the hill country you’ll have the option to continue straight past your right turn onto RM 473 and make a brief stop in Sisterdale, a picturesque town on the north banks of the Guadalupe river originally settled by German immigrants in the 1850’s.
From Sisterdale, head west on RM473 and cruise along the easy-going curves that will lead you towards the town of Comfort, a true gem of Texas hill country that boasts nearly 100 historic buildings. Stop in for lunch at High’s Cafe and Store or Food for the Soul Bistro and enjoy a walk through old downtown Comfort, considered to be one of the most well-preserved historic business districts in all of Texas. Once back on your bike, head west and then north via Bartel Rd and Hasenwinkel Rd. After crossing over Bear Creek, turn right on Bear Creek Rd. The roads leading east towards Bankersmith are the curviest of the route and will provide the best opportunity for sporty riding. After passing through Bankersmith and Grapetown, head east on Grapetown Rd and RM 1376 before arriving back in Luckenbach. You can cap off your ride with some good eats at the Luckenbach feed lot, a visit to the General Store and on most days, some live country music. You can check the Luckenback Town website to see who’s performing, when, and if tickets are required for that day or night’s performance.
Marble Falls to Buchanan Lake Loop
Beginning in Marble Falls and stretching as far north as the upper end of Buchanan Lake, this roughly 115 mile loop is suited to the rider who is looking to do a bit of exploring and relaxed riding in the northern reaches of Texas Hill Country. After rendezvousing with your riding buddies in Marble Falls, you can start off your day with a proper Texas-style breakfast at Blue Bonnet Cafe, a hill country classic about 3 blocks from the Colorado River that has been serving up homestyle meals (and excellent pie) since 1929. Post-breakfast, gas up your bike and head east on RM 1431 for a little while before turning north onto County Road 341. A series of curves and a few turns will lead you through Mormon Creek and into the southern outskirts of Burnett. After a brief cruise southbound on 281, turn right onto Park Road 4 and enjoy the increasingly twisty ride towards Lake Buchanan. A number of horseshoe-shaped bends will lead you through Inks Lake State Park, one of several great swimming spots in the area. Keep an eye out for snakes if you go for a dip!
Continuing north will bring you to the bright and rocky shores of Lake Buchanan, the second largest of the six Texas Highland Lakes. More gentle curves will lead you through Silver Creek Village and eventually to the northernmost point of the route, where 2341 terminates at the entrance of Canyon of the Eagles lake resort. Backtrack on 2341 and continue southeast to the town of Burnet, where you can check out relics of early Texas history at the Fort Croghan grounds and museum. Originally an outpost established by a company of Texas Rangers in 1849 to defend settlers from hostile Native American tribes, the grounds of Fort Croghan contain a number of historic buildings and many artifacts dating from the earliest days of Texas statehood. If you’re hungry for lunch, be sure to stop in at Mama’s Home Cooking, where you can enjoy one of the best chicken-fried steaks that the Texas Hill Country has to offer. Leaving Burnet in the side mirror, head southeast on Old Bertram Rd before passing through the town of Oatmeal, the second-oldest town in the county and proud home of the annual “Oatmeal Fest” which takes place the weekend before labor day. From Oatmeal the final leg of the ride will lead south and then west back towards Marble Falls, where a nice series of sweeping turns bring you closer to the Colorado river before putting you right back where you started off your ride in Marble Falls.
Nueces River Valley Loop
Featuring a few of the best roads that the western reaches of Texas Hill Country have to offer, this 258-mile loop is perfect for the more experienced rider who is seeking a solid day of scenic sport riding in the beautiful and remote Nueces River Valley. Be sure to exercise caution and maintain a high state of vigilance while riding this route, as there are bound to be a number of dust and gravel-covered patches on the road. Always be sure to ride within your own personal limits. For this route, consider packing your swim trunks and a towel so that you can enjoy a swim in the Nueces River later on in the day.
Starting off in Rock Springs with a long day of riding ahead, fuel up your bike and check your tire pressure before heading west on 377. Shortly after turning south on 674 you’ll get into the curves and remote semi-desert landscape that make this route so enjoyable. Continuing south will bring you to the town of Brackettville, originally established in 1852 as a supply depot for nearby US Army Fort Clark. From Brackettville head east on 334 before passing through Laguna and Montell on 55 – these two roads contain the most gentle and sweeping turns of the route. Continuing north on 55 past Barksdale will bring you through a winding series of about 20 turns before straightening out and landing you back in Rocksprings, at which point you can fuel back up before riding northeast on 377.
Take the east fork onto 41 before heading south on 335 and carving up the turns that follow the Nueces River south through Vance and back into Camp Wood, where you can make a stop at King’s Texas Smokehouse and enjoy some of the Nueces River Valley’s best barbeque. If it’s still a bit too early for lunch, and especially if you’re riding on a hot day, you can continue south for about 7 miles and drop in to Wes Cooksey Park for a swim in the cool turquoise waters of the Nueces River. After drying off, head back to Camp Wood and get yourself a bite to eat (if you didn’t earlier) before riding east on RM 337 towards Leakey. A winding series of curves will precede your arrival in town. The ride north from Leakey will undoubtedly be the most exciting of the day, as RM 336 follows nearly every twist and turn of the West Frio River for roughly 20 miles before diverging northwest and spitting you back out onto State Highway 41. From there, kick back and enjoy the easy ride west back into Rocksprings, where you can cap off your day enjoying a burger and beer with your riding buddies at Jailhouse Bar & Grill.
Special thank you to REVER App for these great suggestions on rides in Austin, Texas, and the Hill Country. To SEE all the great trips that REVER has to offer, please click here