Members of the Hill Country Volkssportverein on a walk at Joshua Springs Park and Preserve in Kendall Country. Photo Courtesy Hill Country Volkssportverein
Take a leisurely walk around any of the Main Streets and courthouse squares for a real feel for the people and places of the Highland Lakes. You also can go on a volksmarch, either individually or with a group. The sport of volksmarching is especially popular around Fredericksburg, which is part of the home territory of the Hill Country Volkssportverein, a volksmarch club.
“You don’t have to be a member to go on our walks,” says spokesperson Tina Bohnert, who has been active in the sport since the 1970s. She usually goes on a scheduled walk with Hill Country or other clubs once a week. She’s participated in walks across the United States and Canada.
A scheduled volksmarch, which is German for “people walking,” provides a map with walks routed through towns and the countryside. You can pick any distance, but most walks are usually about three to six miles round-trip. You can go in groups or alone. Many participants track their miles and earn badges they wear on vests, hats, shorts or ribbons. But not everyone is competitive.
“I used to do that stuff, but now I don’t even know how many miles I’ve walked,” Bohnert says. “I don’t keep track of it. That’s not my main thing.”
What she does is have fun, she says.
“The goal of our club is to hold events and have fun,” she says. “We get out to see things and get exercise and socialize. We have refreshments at our events. It makes it more of a social thing.”
Walking the Highland Lakes
If you’re not into group walks, you can strike out on your just about anywhere in the Highland Lakes.
The best way to get around Fredericksburg is by foot. Clomp along the wooden sidewalks of downtown as you discover an old five-and-dime, eclectic furniture stores, art galleries, bakeries, a winery, ice cream and more.
In Llano, explore a variety of art galleries, antique stores, gift shops and restaurants from the Llano River Bridge to the courthouse square. Don’t miss a chance to see the World War I memorial and visit the Llano County Courthouse, one of the few remaining Texas courthouses built before 1900.
In Marble Falls, Historic Main Street boasts a number of shops worth exploring along with plenty of live music venues and nearby restaurants, public areas and nightspots. And don’t forget to check out the open-air art show of sculptures.
In Burnet, you can cut away from the Courthouse Square across U.S. 281 (watch for traffic and wait on the lights) and make your way to the Riverwalk on Hamilton Creek. And if you’re walking along League Street, just one block east of the courthouse square, at 1:30 on a Saturday afternoon, you might just travel back in time to the wild, wild West.
The Burnet Gunfighters dress in period costumes and put on a 20-minute shootout at Old Burnet Town. Times depend on the train schedule for the Hill Country Flyer, so you might want to call (512) 756-1872 for daily updates. For more, go to www.burnetgunfighters.org.
In Johnson City, you can walk in the footsteps of President Lyndon B. Johnson at his boyhood home on Elm Street, one block south of U.S. 290. You can stroll on over to the Johnson Settlement, where guides will help you experience life on the farm during Johnson’s childhood.
For more information on joining a volksmarch or just trying it out, check out the American Volksport Association website, where you can find schedules for walks anywhere in the United States including the Texas Hill Country. You can send queries to Bohnert at email@example.com.
Austin also has a club that plans walks in the Hill Country and the Highland Lakes. Check out the Colorado River Walkers website at www.coloradoriverwalkers.org.