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5 day Hill Country without Austin?

Old 02-11-19, 09:53 AM
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5 day Hill Country without Austin?

We are looking for 5-day Mid-march (credit card) tour driving distance from Houston and ACA Hill Country Tour sounded like a great choice for that. However, looking at the details it seems the whole loop is a bit too long for 5 days (would like to keep it under ~50miles per day). Plus I am not a big fan of going from/to downtown Austin. Anyone who've done the tour can recommend if Northern or Southern half-loop with Pedernales Cut-off is better choice and if there is a good way to avoid Austin all together. I am thinking the western half of the ACA loop with some Southbound shortcut in the middle. Other ideas are welcome.
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Old 02-11-19, 05:23 PM
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This tour is after your dates but it might give you an idea of some routes. Easter Hill Country Tour ? Friday April 19th thru Sunday April 21st 2019
Another resource is The Hill Country Bicycle Touring Club https://hcbtac.org
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Old 02-11-19, 08:29 PM
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You can mostly bypass Austin to the west by taking 360. On a map, it looks like a major highway that you'd avoid, but it consistently has a shoulder the size of a full lane, and the entrance/exit ramps are far apart. It's a fun, safe, scenic road, popular with cyclists in the Austin area.

I haven't ridden every one of those roads, but if I had to guess, the southern half is better. That said, Enchanted Rock is one of my favorite places in the entire state.

Everything east of I-35, you're missing little. If you can trim that off, as well as another ~30 miles somewhere else, you could potentially do most of it. Don't miss River Road just north of New Braunfels; it's some of the best riding I've ever done.
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Old 02-11-19, 08:47 PM
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Many hilly roads around Garner SP and Lost Maples SNA. Look into parking in Bandera as a starting point. There is a lot of options in the area.
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Old 02-12-19, 10:59 AM
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Originally Posted by riceowls
We are looking for 5-day Mid-march (credit card) tour ...would like to keep it under ~50miles per day...Other ideas are welcome.
It's a popular location and a beautiful time of year. A lot of places require two night minimum stay.

Start in Kerrville. Day one to Vanderpool via Guadalupe River Gorge and Lost Maples State Ntl Area, 52 miles. Day two loop via Leakey, Garner State Park and Utopia (two night stay in Vanderpool), 49 miles. Day three to Kerrville via Medina, 44 miles.

https://ridewithgps.com/routes/29316715

Drive to Fredericksburg.

Day four loop via Enchanted Rock State Ntl Area, Willow City Loop and Lower Crabapple Rd, 63 miles (sorry! Several short cuts, depending on what you choose to skip). Day five loop via Lyndon Johnson State & National Historic Parks, Luckenbach and Old San Antonio Rd, 43 miles. (2~3 night stay in Fredericksburg)

https://ridewithgps.com/routes/29316784

Every little town has activities & points of interest depending on what you like: history, tubing, bird watching, etc. Lotsa wild flowers, wineries out the kazoo. War is the stupidest thing humans do, but if you'd like some understanding on how that sort of thing happens, I recommend the National Museum of the Pacific War in Fredericksburg.

PS: They call it the 'Hill Country' for a reason.

Last edited by tcs; 02-12-19 at 11:04 AM.
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Old 02-12-19, 12:54 PM
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Originally Posted by BlarneyHammer
Enchanted Rock is one of my favorite places in the entire state.
Fun fact: it was a foggy day at Enchanted Rock that provided the initial inspiration for Robert Howard's Conan the Barbarian stories.
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Old 02-12-19, 05:50 PM
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Great ideas thus far.
Originally Posted by tcs
It's a popular location and a beautiful time of year. A lot of places require two night minimum stay.
https://ridewithgps.com/routes/29316715
https://ridewithgps.com/routes/29316784
Wow - thanks for the detailed routes! Looks great. Even if we decide to do some version of ACA this year we would do your suggested loops next time.
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Old 02-13-19, 03:37 PM
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Originally Posted by riceowls
I am thinking the western half of the ACA loop with some Southbound shortcut in the middle.
When it comes to highways, I have found US 281 to be ok for cycling. It is a large two/four lane US highway but seems to either have shoulders or places where it is four lanes and traffic moves over. I do avoid US290/US183 as having not much in way of shoulders. So a minimal modification that would meet the description above would be US281 as the cutoff. That might cutoff more than you are looking for... but I would then add back in some additional routes near Fredericksburg. Look in places like ridewithgps for suggestions.

As already mentioned, each year there is the Easter Hill Country tour. This year Easter and the tour is later - but the first day of riding (as it also was in 2016) is from Fredericksburg - so I'm guessing they use a similar loop that goes mostly N and W or Fredericksburg on smaller roads - t there are quite a few other possibilities there.
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Old 02-13-19, 04:15 PM
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Related follow-up question - how is riding on Park Road 4 (PR 4) on a weekend? I see no shoulders on google maps but there are a few places along it we'd like to visit....
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Old 04-01-19, 01:55 PM
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Just to update y'all: we ended up doing the north-half of the ACA tour starting from around mansfield dam in Austin. If anyone needs 5-day escape in TX - that's a great option. Followed ACA route for the most part - easy to get to from the dam on the wide shoulder of 620. Spend a first night in Burnett, second night in Llano, third night in Fredericksburg and the last night in Johnson city. On the 2nd day did a detour on PR4 to see Longhorn caverns - highly recommended. On the 3rd day - carry extra water - no place to refill in between! I wish we had time to stay another night in Fredericksburg to do a loop ride there but that would be our next trip.

Had to finish the tour ~20 miles early with rear derailleur break -see below but at least we were in UBER range and got to our car.

(see pic)
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