Texas Hill Country Bluebonnets: Spring Has Sprung
If you’ve taken the time to blink in the last few months, you probably missed winter. We are rapidly approaching spring, and leaving the almost non-existent cooler weather squarely in the rear view mirror. Even by Texas Hill Country standards calling it “mild” would have been a bit of an understatement. Winter’s lackluster showing left a bit of room for spring to step in ahead of schedule, and step in it has.
The grass is growing, weeds are shooting up, trees are budding, and spring flowers are beginning to bloom around our region. Better than average weather conditions and properly timed precipitation have resulted in the potential for a great wildflower season. The most obvious signs spring has sprung are the fields of bluebonnets popping up across Texas.
At this point, the areas east of TX Hwy 16 in the hill country are popping blue at respectable levels, with peak season expected sometime in the next week to 10 days. That all means one thing: You still have time to get out and enjoy a bluebonnet sightseeing tour of the hill country. Here are a couple of the spots we recommend, with some bluebonnet photos from years past taken in each area:
Willow City Loop
Willow City Loop: Not far from Fredericksburg on Hwy 16 you’ll find Willow City Loop- one of the premiere spring time wildflower destinations in Texas. We make an effort to get out on the loop every year to take in the scenery and photograph the bluebonnets, and we highly recommend it. The annual bluebonnet display on the loop can be a little hit and miss, and isn’t always guaranteed to be at a level consistent
with the bluebonnet displays in other parts of the hill country. That being said, when the 13 mile loop decides to put on a show, you aren’t likely to find anywhere in the hill country that does it better. In addition to that, Willow City Loop is incredibly scenic any time of year- with rolling hills, towering bluffs, meandering creeks, and scenic valleys- the bluebonnets are just a bonus. To get there from Fredericksburg, head north on TX Hwy 16 for about 13 miles. Follow the signs to Willow City, go east on Ranch Road 1323 for about 3 miles, and turn left on Willow City Loop. The loop will take you back to TX Hwy 16.
Llano: When the Willow City Loop dumps you back onto TX Hwy 16, take a right and head north toward Llano. The country roads outside Llano provide some of the best opportunities for wildflower viewing in the hill country, and the other scenery isn’t bad either. On your way north take a detour and head west on FM 965 toward Enchanted Rock. This route will take you past several roadside creeks often featuring impressive displays of wildflower displays along their banks. Proceed a little further down and you’ll reach Enchanted Rock, one of the most unique state parks in Texas. The wildflowers aren’t the main reason to visit the park, but the blooms in the area can be pretty impressive, and the granite outcroppings found in and around the park provide a picturesque contrast with the vibrant colors of spring.
When you’ve adequately explored this route, head back toward Hwy 16 and proceed north toward Llano. Area roadways with the best color can be a bit difficult to predict before the blooms are at their peak, but we’ve found really impressive roadside displays of wildflowers along FM 2323, Hwy 71, Hwy 29, and Hwy 16. Many of the other country roads in the area are worth checking out as well. We stopped by a local convenience store to get some gas on our trip last year, and the clerk gave some great advice about the roads we should explore. The local visitor center is also a great resource. The center can be found in the middle of town in the old, restored train station. The building also houses the chamber of commerce, and an interesting little railroad museum. As a bonus, the train tracks outside the depot tend to have at least a few bluebonnets creeping up, making for a great photo opportunity.
There are many great opportunities to get out and see Texas Hill Country wildflowers and the scenic beauty of our region this time of year. Kingsland, Marble Falls, Fredericksburg, Johnson City, and many of the other small towns in our region are wildflower hot spots. Make a plan to get out and explore our region this spring. Sometimes the best plan is no plan at all- just get out and drive, exploring the back roads, rural highways, and small towns along the way.
What are your wildflower spots in the hill country?