Texas Hill Country Overnighter

location Texas, USA
We recognize Indigenous Peoples as the traditional stewards of this land. Moreflag On Comanche, Kickapoo & Lipan Apache Land
  • Distance

    66 Mi.

    (106 KM)
  • Days

    2

  • % Unpaved

    54%

  • % Singletrack

    0%

  • Difficulty (1-10)

    3

  • % Rideable (time)

    100%

  • Total Ascent

    2,835'

    (864 M)
  • High Point

    1,542'

    (470 M)

Contributed By

Maxwell Johnston

Maxwell Johnston

Guest Contributor

Maxwell is a born and raised Texan, and has a great appreciation for most outdoor pursuits. Being a person in long term recovery, he is in constant search of humbling adventures and believes that there is no better way to right size yourself with the world than pushing the mind and body to new limits…and bikepacking fits the bill perfectly. Find more of Maxwell’s photos here @mtjohnston8.

The state of Texas has so much beauty to offer, but there's something uniquely captivating about the Texas Hill Country. Located 90 miles west of Austin, this overnighter takes you through the rolling hills of limestone and granite, past prickly pear cactus, and fields of livestock. Riders can camp under the stars on the Llano River and test their luck with some of the state's best fly-fishing spots...
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While Texas is the largest states in the continental US, most people are surprised to learn that it has very few public land offerings. Over 95% of this huge state is privately owned, which can make bikepacking routes—and even local overnighters—challenging to create. Fortunately, there are plenty of dirt roads and private campgrounds to string together, you just need to get a little creative, as well as be willing to pay these wonderful people that open their land to visitors.

The Texas Hill Country Overnighter’s lollipop configuration was designed to begin and end at Oxford Ranch Campground, a private campground with grazing cattle scattered throughout camp. The route starts in between Llano and Fredericksburg; the first section of the route is a scenic ohv/off road route called the Texas Overland Route. This section is a combination of gravel and pavemed roads leading you further west towards Castell.

  • Texas Hill Country Overnighter
  • Texas Hill Country Overnighter
  • Texas Hill Country Overnighter
  • Texas Hill Country Overnighter
  • Texas Hill Country Overnighter

After a short stretch of a lightly trafficked ranch road, the ride intersects with a local race route: The Castell Grind. The race is known for some of the best gravel in Central Texas. The roads begin to wind through a rugged landscape filled with granite outcroppings and red dirt. The final 10 miles of the first day is a steady descent of groomed gravel, setting you up to eat at the Castell General Store. You can enjoy burgers, BBQ, and oftentimes live music on the weekends after a long day of riding.

Cap off the day by spending the night at the Leifeste Campground and wake up to a beautiful sunrise just over the Llano River. You can even pack a rod, as Castell has some of the best fishing in Texas. Randy Leifeste, the owner of the general store, recently released 2,400 rainbow trout into the river to appease even the most experienced anglers. This mild route serves as a great introduction for any new bikepackers and explores some hidden gems of the Texas Hill Country.

Route Difficulty

This is a straightforward ride and a great introduction into bikepacking. There is some elevation change, and the wind can make things more difficult. However, with multiple water supply points provided and a general store to fuel up, this route should be mostly stress free. Make sure to carry enough water for each day and call ahead to dial in your plans for food and lodging, and you should be all set.

Route Development: This route is a connection between the Texas Hill Country Overland Route and the Castell Gravel Grind. The former, a 150 mile scenic point to point trail used primarily as an ohv/off road route. The latter, a 100k gravel race course which entails a 31 mile south loop (ridden here) and a 32 mile north loop. Maxwell pieced together these two routes in hopes to bring more attention to Texas bikepacking.

Local OvernighterThis route is part of the Local Overnighter Project, which was created to expand our growing list of worldwide bikepacking routes—the first and largest of its kind—and create an independent map and catalog of great bikepacking overnighters, curated by you, from your own backyard. Our goal is to have accessible routes from every town and city in the world. Learn More
  • Highlights

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  • Must Know

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  • Camping

    home

  • Food/H2O

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  • Resources

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  • Waking up right off the Llano River at Leifeste Campgrounds is top notch, and on colder mornings there is steam coming off the warm water creating an incredibly beautiful scene.
  • Keyserville Road: The last 10 miles of the first day, offers a steady descent on some of the best gravel you can find in Texas.
  • Castell General Store: Great people with great food. This small town store gives you a real taste of the simple life.
  • Llano River: Pack a rod and try your luck at some of the best fishing in Texas. Just make sure you have a license.
  • Texas wildflowers: This route in the springtime is lined with beautiful Texas wildflowers.
  • This route is rideable year-round, but with hot summers and surprisingly cold winters, I would recommend spring or fall.
  • This route is set up where you start at Oxford Ranch Campground, and ride to Leifeste Campgrounds. The owners of Oxford Ranch are sweet and said they would be willing to let people park for no fee, but if it’s more than a single car I’d reach out to confirm. (325) 247-1639
  • Make sure to download the maps to all your devices, cell service is extremely limited.
  • This entire route is rideable year-round, although the terrain can get pretty soggy after a big rain.
  • Ranch Rd 2323 is a 4-mile stretch of highway where there is not an established bike lane. However, it is not heavily traveled, just keep the earbuds out and be cautious of cars.
  • Loose livestock: You will see loose livestock (cattle mostly). I’ve only encountered friendly animals on this route.
  • You can also start at the beginning of the Texas Overland Route for an additional 40 miles; however it is mostly paved country roads. Beautiful scenery, but I know pavement is not everyone’s thing.
  • If you wanted to explore more of the gravel Texas has to offer, stay another night and do the North loop of the Castell Grind.
  • Leifeste Campgrounds, in Castell, TX is the most scenic of the campgrounds I found on this route. You will need to reserve a spot. Easily done on their Facebook page. $30/night for a group of 4.
  • Oxford Ranch Campgrounds, no reservations needed here. $10/night per person for primitive camping.
  • Castell General Store, has some general resupply items (water, nuts, bars, etc.), as well as delicious burgers and BBQ on the weekends.
  • There are a couple of natural water resupply points if you have a filtration device. Llano river and seasonal creeks have water unless it is during a drought.

Additional Resources

  • Castell Grind‘s website has other lodging info for Castell, as well as maps of the north and south sections of their race route.
  • Leifeste CampgroundsFB Page
  • Castell General Store – Hours and events

Terms of Use: As with each bikepacking route guide published on BIKEPACKING.com, should you choose to cycle this route, do so at your own risk. Prior to setting out check current local weather, conditions, and land/road closures. While riding, obey all public and private land use restrictions and rules, carry proper safety and navigational equipment, and of course, follow the #leavenotrace guidelines. The information found herein is simply a planning resource to be used as a point of inspiration in conjunction with your own due-diligence. In spite of the fact that this route, associated GPS track (GPX and maps), and all route guidelines were prepared under diligent research by the specified contributor and/or contributors, the accuracy of such and judgement of the author is not guaranteed. BIKEPACKING.com LLC, its partners, associates, and contributors are in no way liable for personal injury, damage to personal property, or any other such situation that might happen to individual riders cycling or following this route.

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