Monday, March 12, 2012

Scenic Drives in the Southern Hill Country

If you like beautiful scenery, the southern Hill Country offers a number of drives where you can see lots of unique country. And depending on when you go, the country can take on a different look. I've been in that country in summer, in winter, in fall, when it was hot and sunny, and when it was foggy and misty. Each time, it can look different.

Most of the really pretty drives are on east to west roads. Since most of the rivers in the area flow north to south, carving canyons and valleys as they go, by driving east or west you can cross these valleys, canyons, and rivers. If you should happen to travel these roads, do so with caution. Even in the best weather and with the best road conditions, they can be dangerous due to hairpin turns, dips, blind curves, and other features.

One of the best drives is Ranch Road 337 from Medina in the east to Camp Wood in the west. Ranch Road 470 from just west of Bandera to just north of Utopia is another pretty drive. From Utopia, you can take Ranch to Market Road 1050, another pretty drive but not as dramatic as the two previously mentioned. Highway 16 from just south of Kerrville to Medina is one of the prettiest north/south drives in the area. Highway 39 west of Kerrville follows the Guadalupe River through some of the prettiest country in the area, and certainly some of the most developed with the tourist in mind.

While in the area, Donna and I stumbled upon a short drive down a country lane. In the community of Concan, County Road 348, locally known as the River Road, heads north from Concan near the intersection of US 83 and State Highway 127 along the Frio River for about 5 or 6 miles. Along this narrow lane are numerous "resorts" and other businesses catering to river rats. There are 2 low-water crossings over the Frio on this road.

A road we've not been on in over 20 years, US Highway 377 from Junction follows the South Llano River towards Rocksprings. The area around Telegraph is particularly lovely, with at least one high vantage point for enjoying the view. There are 2 low-water crossings of the South Llano, and these provide drop-in areas for those wishing to canoe or kayak the river to a take-out point at South Llano River State Park, about 3 miles outside of Junction. In fact, there used to be an outfitter just outside the park entrance; however, since I've not been there in about 20 years, I can't say if that outfitter is still in business.

The southern Hill Country provides some of the most beautiful scenery in Texas in a relatively small area. There's lots to see, and if you like water, there are numerous opportunities in warm weather for swimming, tubing, canoeing, kayaking, or fishing.

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