Originally published in the April 1997 issue of the BMW MOA Owners News.
This ride is for those of you who think that if you’re not dragging the footpegs/valve covers, bottoming the suspension, or flying through the air as you crest the hills, then you aren’t going fast enough. The Loop also offers some of the most breathtaking scenery you can find in the Texas Hill Country. I highly recommend that during your trip to Fredericksburg for the National, that you take a day and go explore these roads.
From the Lady Bird Johnson Park, you head south on State Highway (SH) 16. Follow SH 16 through Kerrville until you get to the town of Medina. Medina is fast becoming the apple capitol of Texas. At Medina you hang a right on Ranch Road (RM) 337. Things are about to get interesting. For about the first ten miles, RM 337 closely follows the course of the Medina River. It takes through and over breathtakingly beautiful but ruggedly desolate hills and valleys. Sometimes the Meidina is right beside you and sometimes it's far below. As you head west towards Campwood you will ride in and out three canyons. The first is Sabinal River Canyon, the second is Frio River Canyon, and the third is Nueces River Canyon. These three rivers have worked millions of years to create a sport rider's dream come true.
My favorite way to ride The Loop is to take Ranch Road 337 all the way to Campwood. At Campwood, you may begin to realize that you are only about 60 miles from the Mexican border. The land is a little more rugged looking and it always seems a little drier and dustier than it is Leakey only 21 miles to the east. Turn right on SH 55 and in four miles at the town of Barksdale veer to the right on RM 335 and head into Nueces Canyon. After a run up this little road, you will feel like you've ridden the world’s longest rollercoaster. Mile after mile you alternate between bottoming out your suspension in the dips and exploring zero gravity as you crest the hills. An interesting sight along RM 335 is a ranch a few miles north of Barksdale. You will see a variety of exotic animals, including a couple of Camels. The wall around the ranch is like a fortress. The top of wall is covered with broken bottles embedded in the concrete. It looks like it might be a little tough to climb over the wall.
When you get to State Highway 41, if you are ready for lunch, take a left and head into Rocksprings. I recommend eating at the historic Rocksprings Hotel. At 2,450 feet above sea level, Rocksprings is the highest point in the Texas Hill Country. If you are hungry for another thrilling road instead, a right turn on SH 41 will take you to RM 336. Take a right on RM 336. For the first few miles you’ll wonder if this road was worth the trip. You’re up on top of the Edwards Plateau and it's pretty flat. But don’t despair, relief is just a few miles away. As much as RM 335 is a roller coaster, RM 336 becomes endless twists and turns all the way to the intersection with US Highway 83 just north of the town of Leakey. Head on into Leakey and then take a left on RM 337. Oh no, we’ve already ridden this road before. But hey, if we’re gonna backtrack, it might as well as be on the best section of all. This road will have you grinning from ear-to-ear inside your helmet.
When you get to Vanderpool, take a left on RM 187. A few miles north of Vanderpool, you begin to climb out of Sabinal Canyon. You go straight up this hill that climbs for three-quarters of a mile. Another interesting attraction along RM 187 is The Lost Maples State Natural Area. It's known for its riverside stands of Bigtooth Maples, trees that are not normally found in this part of the country. When you get to SH 39, turn right and it will take you back to Kerrville. SH 39 runs along the South Fork of the Guadalupe River. In the next 20 miles to Hunt, you cross the south fork of the Guadalupe no less than 14 times. It’s a beautiful stretch of road, however the popularity of the attractions along the river has increased the amount of traffic on the road. Back in the early 80’s, we had this road all to ourselves.
At the intersection of SH 39 and SH 27, follow SH 27 into Kerrville. To avoid backtracking on SH 16 take a left on RM 783 and follow it to the town of Harper. At Harper turn right on U.S. Highway 290 for 0.4 miles and then turn right on RM 2093. RM 2093 intersects SH 16 about a mile north of Lady Bird Johnson Park.
I hope you enjoy the ride. I always do.