PACKSADDLE MOUNTAIN AREA: County Road 309 near Packsaddle
Mountain, lost on the dead end road,
Fuzzy's Corner (out front and out back), Granite Hills Hereford Ranch enroute to
Story & Photos by IRA KENNEDY
I'm going to be offering up more directions than usual cause this trip is all
about my favorite wildflower backroads. You're likely to need a 4-wheel drive to follow
along, especially the last stretch on the Click Route.
During Bluebonnet season you'll want to avoid the crowds. If
you've ever been in that area before you already know. If you haven't you'll know soon
I'd been through
Dripping Springs enough times to know there's nothing much to see... Okay, I know I'll
hear about that little comment, but there are some towns only a local could love. Anyway,
the place was completely new to Ms. Intrepid, and, if first impressions are worth much, my
little assertion held up to a second opinion.
But the drive there, through Johnson City and Round
Mountain enroute to Kingsland offers some mighty fine country. Being thoroughly familiar
with the drive, I had plenty of time to ponder. Like, why is gas always
something-point-nine cents per gallon and yet the price always ends up even on the penny.
What are the odds? Where's my change? Imagine. If only one-tenth a cent ended up back in
the pockets of the gas companies one-tenth of the time, what would that add up to?
North of Johnson City is Round Mountain, or Birdtown as it
was originally known. This isn't really a town. Its an auction barn, gas station, truck
stop, restaurant and bank -- all under single proprietorship. Once upon a time there was a
small store just across the road but it's been empty for years.
We turned left just past Round Mountain, on County Road
962. Near the far end of this 10 mile stretch is a panoramic view of Packsaddle Mountain.
It was there, back in 1873 that the last conflict occurred with the Indians. More on that
If you're following our route, turn left at Hwy 71
intersection. This stretch of road toward Llano is legendary for its Bluebonnets. Don't be
discouraged by seeing the highway roadside scraped down to dirt on both sides. They're
widening the highway but a few miles down the road everything gets back to normal.
Just as you come up on Packsaddle Mountain you'll see a
sign for a historical marker and that's where we turned right on County Road 309. I love
this little road which comes out near Kingsland where you'll make another left to cross
the Lake LBJ bridge. (Before the 309 turnoff you'll come upon a Kingsland highway sign for
Hwy 2233 where you'll see more Bluebonnets. There you'll need to make another left on Hwy
2900 but keep your eyeballs pealed cause you might miss the turnoff. I do all the time,
but not everyone has my professional skills getting lost.)
About CR 309 -- The road is pretty rough and I can't
explain why I love it, but I was a "local" for several decades, so there you
have it. Anyway this road takes you pretty close alongside Packsaddle Mountain which is
where a silver mine, abandoned in the 1800s, has been located. And as I mentioned before,
this is where that legendary Indian confrontation occurred.
The Fight on Packsaddle Mountain was precipitated when a
cow on the Moss Ranch (in what is now Llano County) came into the ranch house with an
arrow sticking out of its side. A party of eight ranchers, including W.B. Moss and his two
brothers, was raised to pursue the Indians. They found some twenty one Indians encamped on
Packsaddle Mountain. In the ensuing fight at least three Indians, probably Apache, were
killed and three ranchers wounded.
Kingsland. I've been told that Texas Monthly once
declared it the ugliest town in Texas, and from the road that notion holds up pretty well.
But no matter where you go in the Highland Lakes it's all best seen from the water where
all the fancy lakeside homes are located. But Nigel the Land Rover doesn't take to water
more than a few feet deep; and in my younger days I was nearly swept away on a low water
crossing so I'm cautious to the extreme.
In Kingsland we turned left on Hwy 1431, but you may want
to turn right for a short detour to Lookout Mountain where you can get a major view of the
Lake LBJ and Packsaddle Mountain. Otherwise, you can check out a picture of the view I took
some time back. In the believe-it-or-not category, it was on Lookout Mountain where I took
the photo of a Bluebonnet in the snow; and I'm still digging around in my files for the
thing which I'll post next month.
A railroad track runs along 1431 and on a good year the
embankments are thick with Bluebonnets. It was on Hwy 1431 just before the Hwy 29
intersection that Ms. Intrepid said there was a county road up ahead where Mountain
Heather was in bloom. At least she thought it was CR 302, so we hung a right where we were
confronted with the most unusual highway sign ever. After seeing the sign, and how the
road went across the hump holding up the train tracks, the meaning was pretty clear.
According to our map the road didn't dead-end which it did
anyway. And, although the thick green patches of Bluebonnet plants held out great promise,
there wasn't the faintest sign heather anywhere. We weren't exactly lost, we just didn't
know where we were. But if we hadn't gone looking for something that wasn't there wouldn't
have seen what was.
Back on 1431 we made a beeline for Fuzzy's Corner at the
Hwy 29 intersection and my first real chance at an adult beverage. Fuzzy's is a typical
Texas roadside tavern. Not much to look at inside or out, but the folks are friendly and
the beer cold.
The men's room(?) is worthy of mention and I'm going to
rely on my picture (at top) to do most of the explaining. Needless to say the place
doesn't have a ventilation problem.
After one beer, which is considered inhospitable in such
places, we were headed for Llano on Hwy 29. Wait! Before I move on you need to know that
the Old Spanish Trail -- right at the intersection west of Fuzzy's -- always has the most resplendent
fields of Indian Paintbrushes you'll ever see.
On to Llano...
PAGE 1: WIMBERLEY / PAGE 2: PACKSADDLE COUNTRY
PAGE 3: LLANO / PAGE 4: CLICK ROUTE /
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