Texas Hill Country Overnighter
66 Mi.(106 KM)
% Rideable (time)
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.
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.
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.
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.
- 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.
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