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Texas Independence Trail Motorcycle Ride Day 1 May 2013


Map of Day 1

Map of Day 1

After seeing an article in the “Texas Highways” magazine about the “Texas Independence Trail” I thought it would be a good motorcycle ride. I have seen the road signs in the past many times but hadn’t given it much thought until seeing this article. The Texas Historical Commission has charted out a good motorcycle adventure with its delineation of the Texas Independence Trail region. The trail is an area that winds through the Houston/Galveston area following the coast to West Columbia and Victoria. The trail then continues on to Goliad, San Antonio, Gonzales, Bastrop and Brenham. All along the trail are sites rich in Texas Independence history and much more.

Texas Independence Hall @ Washington on the Brazos

Texas Independence Hall @ Washington on the Brazos


Texas Independence Trail road signs.

Texas Independence Trail road signs.

Here is a timeline for those of you not familiar with Texas history. It will help you unravel what happened and maybe you understand what I was seeing…

  • December 1821: Stephen F. Austin settles the first 300 Anglo families in Texas.
  • April 1834: Santa Anna takes control of Mexico and repeals Constitution of 1824.
  • October 2, 1835: The first military engagement of the Texas Revolution.
  • February 22/24 1836: Santa Anna attacks the Alamo.
  • March 2, 1836: Texian delegates (comprised of Anglo and Mexican) gather at Washington on the Brazos to sign a declaration of independence and create a government.
  • March 6, 1836: The Alamo falls to Santa Anna and the Mexican Army.
  • March 27, 1836: Col. Fannin and his men are massacred at Goliad.
  • April 21, 1836: General Sam Houston and the Texas Army defeat Santa Anna at San Jacinto.
  • October 1836: The first permanent government of the Republic was elected under President Sam Houston, and met at Columbia in the fall of 1836.

100_6195   Due to the logistics, I wasn’t able follow the exact trail. I did follow it as much as possible. There is a lot to see on the trail, but I was limited by time, so I tried to hit the most significant points along the way. These were my goals…

Janet was in San Diego so she wasn’t able to go on the ride. My cousin W. D. was going but at the last minute he had to put his scooter in the shop and he is waiting on a part. I thought about not doing the ride. I decided if I was going I needed to leave the next day. Late that night, I packed everything and loaded the saddle bags to leave the next morning and hoped I hadn’t forgotten something. When I left the weather was perfect, 66 degrees and partly cloudy. I headed out and was about 20 miles from home when I realized… I had left the camera! I had to have the camera… so back home I went. I lost about an hour but I had lots of daylight left. The total mileage for today was 198 miles, excluding the miles for going back home for the camera.

Texas Independence Trail motorcycle ride

Independence Hall @ Washington on the Brazos

My first and only stop today is Washington on the Brazos the site of Texas declaring its independence from Mexico. The ride to Washington on the Brazos was a good one. The spring wildflowers were still blooming and added a splash of color to the green from the recent rains. Along my route were many gentle hills covered in trees and open pasture areas. There were some nice gentle curves along the way, too. It was a cool ride both figuratively and literally.

Washington on the Brazos Visitor Center

Washington on the Brazos Visitor Center

Washington on the Brazos, the birth place of Texas, is now a state park. You can walk the grounds where there are markers telling what was where at the time. Everything is free unless you want to take one of the guided tours or tour the new “The Star of the Republic” museum. The museum is administered by Blinn College. Independence Hall is revered as one of Texas’ most significant historic places. The original building burned sometime around the turn of the century but a replica of Independence Hall marks the place where the Texas Declaration of Independence was signed and the government of the Republic of Texas was created.

Washington on the Brazos, Texas Independence Trail, motorcycle , ride

Independence Hall

Also at the park is the Barrington Living History Farm where you can travel back in time to participate in the daily activities of an 1850’s cotton farm. You may take part in seasonal activities, daily chores, games and toys of the time. I could have stayed longer at the park… there is a lot to take in… but it was almost 1:00 and I was starving. So I was back on the road looking for a good place to eat…

Texas Independence Trail

Texas Independence Trail

I had made good time in spite of the late start. Now it was on to visit my son Tony and his family in Spring. The ride was more of what I had seen earlier in the day. Gentle hills and curves with wild flowers beside the road and in open pastures… It was nice, not too warm and traffic wasn’t bad. I was dreading Houston traffic and was relieved that it was not too bad… This was partly because it was Saturday and I had some good luck. I stayed the night with Tony and we had a nice visit. Savanna, my granddaughter, wasn’t too sure about me and the motorcycle… but since grandma wasn’t with me (she is a grandma’s girl) it didn’t take her long to get over it. She had to show me all of her dolls, toys and her new big girl bed. Tomorrow it is on to the San Jacinto Battleground and Monument… Stay tuned… You can read the other posts about this ride here…

Our Favorite Motorcycle Roads In Texas

Texas is large and has many nice motorcycle roads of all kinds with varying types of scenery. We haven’t ridden all the places in Texas but have ridden many of them. The list below does not cover all the motorcycle roads but are our favorite motorcycle roads in Texas.

If you have a favorite road, please feel free to leave a comment telling us where it is and why you like it.

We will update this list as time goes by so check back from time to time to see what’s new.

RR 337 – 


View from RR 337

RR 337 is one of the three “Twisted Sisters” (some call them the “Three Sisters”) and is my personal favorite.  337 has many tight twisty curves with shear drop offs with nice changes in elevations. There are very scenic panoramic views of the Texas Hill Country. This road is not for beginner riders. There are signs that show the number of motorcycle riders killed on the road. Take it easy and enjoy the ride and views. The road is best in the spring when the wildflowers are in bloom or during the fall when the leaves are turning. For a short detour and break stop by the “Lone Star Motorcycle Museum” 3 miles north on RR 187. The museum has a collection of motorcycles from around the world dating from 1910’s to modern.  Come hungry and eat at the ACE CAFE in the Museum. Try one of their famous Aussie Meat Pies. I like them…

SH 39 –

Boots on a fence on TX Hwy 39

SH 39 is Janet’s personal favorite. The ride goes from Ingram through Hunt on to U.S. Highway 83. The ride has many curves with low water crossings and crosses the South Fork of the Guadalupe River many times. SH 39 is very scenic and tree-shaded with nice homes on much of the ride. Take is slow and easy so you can enjoy the scenery. Otherwise you will miss something the fence lined with boots.

Willow City Loop –

Bluebonnets on the Willow City Loop during the Wildflower season


12 miles northeast of Fredericksburg just off SH 16 is “The Willow City Loop”. It is a 20 mile stretch of beautiful Texas Hill Country back road that any motorcyclist will love. Janet and I usually take this little detour when we are heading down SH 16. If you haven’t ridden the loop, then it is time to plan a trip. and experience what the Willow City Loop has to offer.

The narrow road winds up, down and around scenic hills. In the spring the loop is highlighted with wildflowers including bluebonnet , Indian paintbrush and more. There are many cattle guards, farm gates and low water crossing so observe the speed limit. The loop is enjoyed best at a leisurely pace and do watch for cattle and people on the road. Also be aware that there will be lots of car and bicycle traffic on the loop during the wildflower season. We prefer riding the loop during the week to avoid the traffic. There are lots of photo opportunities so plan on stopping to get good shots. The property is private along the loop so please be respectful and stay on the road way.

The ride is short and takes about 30 minutes to complete but it is well worth the trip. You will not be disappointed.

SH 17 –

SH 17 from Fort Davis to Balmorhea is one of my personal favorite roads in the Big Bend Area. The scenery is a must see if you are in the area. At times you think you are not in West Texas.

Leaving Fort Davis you travel through scenic Limpia Canyon in the Davis Mountains. There is a maximum speed limit of 55 mph. In Limpia Canyon, the road is narrow and has many nice motorcycle curves, with speeds as low as 40 mph. There are also several picnic tables in the canyon where you can stop and take in the wonderful scenery. There is one large picnic area just before reaching Wild Rose Pass. About 1.8 miles past the pass, the road widens and the speed limit increases to 70 mph from there into Balmorhea.

SH 118 –

TX Hwy 118 with Alpine in background.

From Kent to Study Butte, Hwy 118 has it all. There are over 150 miles of riding fun with great motorcycle curves and amazing desert scenery. To the north Hwy 118 runs through scenic, alpine of the Davis Mountains with tight twisting and smooth curves. The McDonald Observatory, sits at 6800 ft and is a must see in the area. Ft. Davis was originally a military outpost to protect settlers from area Indians. The fort is being restored and is a state historic site. Of all the forts we have visited in Texas and elsewhere it is hands down our favorite and another must see. Just outside Alpine are the semi-desert Del Norte Mountains. Further south you drop into the desert plains of the Chihuahua Desert, where you can see the distant mountain scenery of the Christmas and Chisos Mountains. Chisos Mountains are much more rustic and colorful as you approach Study Butte and Big Bend National Park. The desert mountain area is filled with unusual lava landscapes, rustic mountain scenery, smooth, fast sweeping curves. There are many wonderful vistas and spectacular panorama views around each curve.

SH 16 –

The best section of this very long highway is south of Kerrville to Bandera. It has some very tight curves with scenic views of the surrounding Texas Hill Country.

SH 170 –

TX Hwy 170 the “River Road” going west toward Presidio

Highway 170 is known to bikers as the “River Road.” Highway 170 extends from Study Butte to Presidio. From Study Butte heading west you will travel through the mining town of Terlingua, now a ghost town with a population 25. Terlingua is the home of the “International Championship Chili Cook-off”. From Lajitas is your ride down “one of the prettiest roads in America.” About 9.5 miles from Lajitas, on your left, is the old movie set Contrabando. Several movies were made there and is worth a look.

The River Road is a spectacular ride through lush, twisting river valleys through red and purple rock rising to 1000 feet above the Rio Grande River. The road is an excellent motorcycle road; twisting and dropping to the canyon floors along the Rio Grande river. You ride through the Bofecillos Mountains formed by two ancient lava flows to the “Big Hill.” At a 15% grade it is the steepest of any regularly traveled Texas highway. Just outside Presidio, take time to visit Fort Leaton State Historic Site, one of Texas’ most unusual historic sites. Fort Leaton is a massive adobe fortress built in 1848 immediately after the Mexican War.

RR 335 –

RR 335 (A Twisted Sister) to Camp Wood from TX Hwy 41

RR 335 is one of the roads that make up what bikers call the “Three Sisters”, some refer to them as the “Twisted Sisters”. RR-335 is one of our favorite roads. It follows along the west bank of the Nueces River and has some really great views. In the spring, when wild flowers are blooming, Verbena is the most prevalent wildflower on this road. Some of the fields and pastures looked like a sea of purple and the smell hangs in the air for miles and miles. Along the way is a ranch that raise all sorts of wild animals. Near the road were kangaroos with little Joeys, giraffes and further down we saw camels. RR-335 is a twisty roller coaster of a ride but doesn’t have sharp turns so it wasn’t so bad. We rode nice and easy to enjoy the scenery.

RR 336 –

RR 336 is one of the “Twisted Sisters” or “Three Sisters”. There was a sign warning that 10 motorcyclist were killed on 336 since 2006. It was twisty but not that bad. I’m sure most, if not all,  killed were on sports bikes and riding way too fast for an unfamiliar road. I like the other two sisters better but RR 336 is a fun scenic ride.

RR 1050 –

RR 1050 runs from Utopia to U.S. 83. It has nice curves riding through scenic hills of the Texas Hill Country with several changes in elevations. You will need to stop at Garner State Park. It has scenic camping and hiking trails.

RR 965 –


RR 965 from TX Hwy 16 to Fredericksburg past Enchanted Rock

This ride runs from SH 16 to Fredericksburg past Enchanted Rock. It has panoramic scenic views with nice curves and elevation changes. Take the time to stop and hike up Enchanted Rock for even more panoramic views of the Texas Hill Country.

Loop 166 –

Loop 166 is in far West Texas near Fort Davis. From Fort Davis take Texas 118 and turn left onto Texas 166. 166 passes Mt. Livermore and Sawtooth Mountain, then gradually descends, with panoramic views  to the south of the Sierra Viejo Mountains along the Rio Grande River. As you return again to  Fort Davis, you have views of the Puertacita Mountains and Miter Peak. Loop 166 reaches about 6700 feet on the loop which makes it the highest public highway in Texas. It take about 1.5 hours to ride. We try to plane the ride so we are back to Fort Davis before lunch before heading out to our next destination.

SH 54 –

TX Hwy 54 from Van Horn to Guadalupe Mountains Nation Park.

SH 54 runs from Van Horn to Gaudalupe Mountains National Park. It’s just a nice scenic road with panoramic views of the mountains in the distance. Not a lot of curves and the curves are very gentle.