JARED FIELDS • PICAYUNE STAFF
With 100 other things to do in the Highland Lakes, you’ve got to have a way to get to them. Maybe you can walk or ride a bike, but most likely you’ll need to get in your car and drive to your next fun thing.
This is the Hill Country. You’re here to slow down and take in everything. So do the same in the car and enjoy the trip. Besides, didn’t some wise, old man say something about the journey being the important part of arriving at your destination?
Let’s start in the east. Maybe you’re visiting the Highland Lakes and coming from the Austin area and can’t force yourself to slow down on the road.
Now, you can take Texas 71 and have a fine drive. But for the adventurers out there, venture to RR 1431, and it will force you to slow down. Winding roads weave through the Hill Country and render your car’s sun visor pointless. For nearly an hour between Cedar Park and Marble Falls, you’ll go over and down hills, twist and turn through mesquite and cedar trees, and, at one point, you’ll swear you went upside-down through a roller-coaster loop.
One of the most traveled Hill Country highways, US 281 between Marble Falls and Burnet, has a great escape for motorists and bikers.
Park Road 4 is a two-lane road that erases your concept of time. Cruising down the road takes you first by Longhorn Cavern State Park and then out to Inks Lake State Park.
Again, the destination doesn’t matter. And after the beautiful tree canopies shadowing the road and then driving over the ridge near Hoover’s Valley Road and looking out on the open landscape, you’ll forget where you were going in the first place.
Keep going and you’ll run into Texas 29, which connects Burnet and Llano. Head west and pass Lake Buchanan and venture to Llano. Once in Llano, you’ll turn south on Texas 16, cross the Llano River and head toward Fredericksburg.
For almost 40 miles, you’ll be one with the hills through lush ranches. In the spring, set aside time to stop along the side of the road to snap a few photos of the bluebonnets and other wildflowers (a general rule for all Highland Lakes road trips in the spring.)
Turn east on U.S. 290 toward Johnson City. Stop for some farm-fresh peaches or at a vineyard for a bottle of wine for later.
After all this, you won’t be in the mood to hurry anywhere. In fact, you might want to ease into an even slower pace. We’ve got just the road for you.
About 15 miles east of Fredericksburg and 14 miles west of Johnson City is the community of Stonewall — and RR 1.
You’ll follow a creek as you explore the area where President Lyndon B. Johnson grew up. His family cemetery is on the road as well as the LBJ national and state parks, where you’ll be able to drive through his ranch and see longhorn cattle, his airport where Air Force One carried him and his home, nicknamed the “Texas White House.”
Maybe you don’t have a convertible Cadillac. But with the 15-mph speed limit through the park, you can roll down the windows on whatever you’re driving and enjoy the views all around you.
All that driving is bound to make you hungry and thirsty. There are plenty of remedies across the Highland Lakes for that in 101 Fun Things to do in the Highland Lakes. Wherever you go, just make sure you enjoy the journey.