GO: Readers’ Choice Top 10 Wildflower Roads #1 Willow City Loop

April 22, 2014

Background

The town of Willow City itself is a few wooden buildings located at the apex of a 90-degree turn. And there’s no way to know unless someone tells you that down that rural, one lane blacktop with a rusty sign reading “Willow City Loop”, you’ll find some of the most beautiful Hill Country scenery in Texas.

What this 13 miles of pocked, narrow, and sometimes way-to-popular-for-its-own-good pavement is famous for, is its springtime display of bluebonnets and other wildflowers. And famous is the right word.

Of course Texas weather is a fickle thing, but once spring starts in earnest, you can rely on a display of bluebonnets along “the loop” that is peerless. The carpets of blue may fool you into thinking there are ponds in valleys where there is absolutely no water at all.

Slow down and take the loop at a casual pace. It winds through hilly countryside marked by ranches and free-range cattle. And where there’s cattle on the road, there’s what on the road? Cow-pies, of course! Numerous.

Riders need to be particularly cautious. More than a few have taken headers into the creeks on the myriad low water crossings. If there’s water flowing over the road, you need to consider carefully your next move. There’s no shame in turning back. It’s pretty both ways.

But the number one threat on the number one wildflower road in Texas are cagers who, it is un-scientifically proven, lose their minds completely in the presence of bluebonnets. Drivers are even less predictable than deer on the sides of roads. Danger, Will Robinson!

 

Classic sign along the Willow City Loop. Don't look for it, now; it's long gone. Things are changing along the loop, with more development coming into the area all the time.

Classic sign along the Willow City Loop. Don’t look for it, now; it’s long gone. Things are changing along the loop, with more development coming into the area all the time. (Valerie Asensio photo)

The Ride

From Fredericksburg head north on TX 16 for about 13 miles. Then take a right on FM 1323 and travel about 5 miles until you reach Willow City. Keep your eyes open. At the 90 degree bend, turn left to enter the loop.

As you exit Willow City and head down the loop, you will travel through some brushland. There is a large warning sign indicating that the land along the loop is posted and there is no trespassing or stopping along the sides of the road allowed.  But you’ll likely see people driving, tromping and stomping all over bluebonnets as if they were harvest grapes. If only people read signs, eh?

Past the sign, the road then cuts down into a beautiful pink granite boulder strewn valley called Hell’s Half Acre. It is nice, really, in spite of the ominous name. If it was given the name to scare the tourists away, it hasn’t worked. The road crisscrosses Coal Creek in several spots, so watch out for the low water crossings. The usual safety advice applies.

Several miles into the loop, on the right is a mining operation. It is strangely misplaced in this wild place, but it is there none the less. Serpentine is mined there for flooring and other uses. It’s the green stone that litters the roadside near the mine.

As mentioned, this road is famous with the wildflower crowd, and on the weekends during the spring at the height of the bluebonnet season, there can be genuine traffic jams in this village of 52.

The best time to go is during the week. But for those who have regular jobs, the next best time to go is early in mornings on Saturday or Sunday, before 9:00 am.

After completing the 13 mile loop, you’ll pop out on TX 16. Fredericksburg is only a few miles south. After a ride through the loop, a stop in F’burg for a meal, or just coffee and dessert. It’s a great way to polish off an excellent day out on two wheels.

 


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#1 Readers’ Pick for Best Wildflower Road in Texas

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Wildflower Roads of Texas edition

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