Three Sisters Motorcycle Ride in Hill Country, Texas
Sometimes, when we’re couped up in a 350 square foot RV, one of us may need a little solo saddle time on the Harley to clear our heads and do a little soul searching. One weekday in February 2016 dictated one of those days. I went on this one by myself.
I recollected few years ago, reading an article “Twisted Sisters: The Texas Hill Country’s Most Famous Trio” in Rider Magazine about a couple guys who rode through the Three Sisters in Texas. I remember them saying it was a beautiful scenic ride with twisties (challenging tight curves). Intrigued, I looked up the route to plan my motorcycle day trip.
The Three Sisters aka ‘Twisted Sisters” or ” The Hundred Mile Loop” (RR335, RR336, & RR337) are without a doubt the best motorcycle roads to be found in the Hill Country of Texas. These are the roads everyone wants to ride when they visit the Texas Hill Country.
Again I caution, if you are a new rider or are a cautious type, then you DO NOT belong on these three roads. They follow canyons and climb over jagged, steep and crumbling hills. They have many tight twisty curves with shear drop offs and not much in the way of guard rails.
In one section about 15 miles long, there are around 65 curves. If you are an experienced rider, then this is the ride for you. If you like scenic panoramic views, bring your camera, take this ride and hold on!! – Hill Country Cruising Website:
“Ranch Road 337 was voted the #1 road to ride in Texas by Ride Texas Magazine”
I left Castroville at 9:00 in the morning after breakfast and coffee. I rode through the quiet and slow back roads on RR 471 to Riomedina, RR 1283 through Mico passing Bandera Falls up to RT 16 Green Road in Bandera (Cowboy Capitol of the World).
“RR” are ‘Ranch Road’; paved County Road equivalent. I stretched my legs a bit in Bandera and grabbed a cold tea and sandwich before saddling up again to head out. I knew there wasn’t much where I was headed (out of season…everything was closed) so a full belly and bathroom break was a must. I also filled my fuel tank, put in some George Strait in my earbuds and was on my way.
After riding through Bandera, I rode RT 16 to RR 337 Green Road passing Vanderpool onto Leakey. Leakey is where the Three Sisters 100-mile loop begins and ends. If riding this yourself, I highly recommend topping off your fuel tank before taking off for the loop. Right when you start on 337, there’s a sign that reads:
“Caution Next 12 Miles. Since Jan. 2006, 10 Killed in Motorcycle Related Crashes.”
No Fear! I’ve done challenging twistie rides before (Tail of the Dragon in NC/TN, Hana Highway and backside of Lahaina in Maui). I’m always up for a challenge; keeps me on my toes and my riding skills honed.
The weather was absolutely gorgeous. Wispy cirrus clouds swished slowly across the gradient blue sky and 70 degrees was just what my imaginary psychologist ordered. I couldn’t ask for better weather. I wore my mesh motorcycle jacket over a t-shirt. The sun was smiling down on me with a real slight breeze seemingly just where I needed it.
Passing the intersection of RT 39 (also a great ride I took on an earlier date), I continued on and took a right onto RR 336 N Red Road. This is where the gentle twisties began. I took my time enjoying every turn. There was no hurry. Really, there was nothing to see other than Hill Country’s sloping ranches of scrubby brush and winter grass so I just enjoyed the ride and music.
There were no distractions to take away from letting my steel horse take me on this mind-cleansing journey. I started getting into some of the more challenging twisties…ahhhhh, my favorite!! When I got a chance, I’d pull over to take a photo; it was my only evidence that I did this ride.
Though it was a lonely ride; rarely seeing a car or even a Rancher’s pickup truck, I did not complain. A few Euro Sport motorcycles wizzed around me but I didn’t mind sharing the road. I rode my own ride at my own pace with not a care in the world. The only sounds emitting were from my own dual pipes.
I stopped on the edge of the road at this one ranch because I couldn’t resist grabbing my camera to take a photo of a real live Texas Longhorn. I’ve never been so close to one. I was grateful for the barbed wire fence that separated us. After we checked each other out and I got my photo evidence, I remounted and went on my way.
Also along the way, I passed a few of these Texas historical markers. This one was worth noting:
Once I got to the end of RT 336, I turned left onto RT 41 for a short ways where the road straightened out a bit. I then hung a left onto RR 335 S. This road was just as fun and merged with HWY 55 that had lots of twisties! Again, my favorite!
Lots of throttle and clutch work and shifting gears. Actually, one of the reasons I enjoy these challenging rides is it encourages me to really think about the whole dynamics and physics between my machine and the ride itself (ie. friction zones, braking before curves, upshifting as I ride through the turns and so on).
I continued riding until I reached Camp Wood; a tiny one-light town where I stopped for a potty break, stretch my back and legs, drink and a slice of gas station pizza. It was getting late, so I got back in the saddle to head west on RR 337; which was the most spectacular of the three RR’s. It wove itself through canyons, rivers, ponds, creeks, up, down, all around.
A beautiful pond alongside the road still in winter slumber
Note my ‘GPS’??
I continued on RR 337 until I came full circle back to Leakey. It was nearing dusk so I needed to step it up a gear to get back to Liberty and my groom before dark. I rode HWY 83 S past Garner State Park to Concan and then onto RR 127 S down to HWY 90 Sabinal. After getting to 90, I hightailed it; cleaning out my pipes back to Castroville. I arrived just in time to see the sunset.
Common site in Hill Country; a ‘Texas Gate’
What a glorious day and amazing ride. I felt accomplished, my mind was refreshed and my soul nourished. It was just what I needed. Next time, I may just plan not to take my map.