Hillier than Austin, which is about two hours away, Bandera offers some longer climbs than Austin cyclists are used to (which in turn means some lubed downhill rewards). Many miles of well-marked trails, an excellent swimming hole and some of the best enchiladas in the state will send you home from this day with a big, silly grin.
Bandera is the heart of Dude Ranch country so remember that bikers always yield to horses.
There are a ton of trail options here so there are rides for all levels. Stick to the double track lower elevations trails for easier rides or pick out a killer loop with lots of single track and hills for a difficult grunt.
There are primitive campsites available, which are also a good place to swim if the creek is running. If not, head back to town and take a left after you cross the bridge for a cool, clear swim in the Medina River.
Location: Hill Country State Natural Area, Bandera, Texas
When: Trails are not open Tuesday or Wednesday
Length: 32 miles of trails
Difficulty: All levels
Directions: From Austin, it's about a two-hour (115 mile) drive. Take Interstate 35 South to 46 West to Boerne and Bandera. In Bandera take 173 south to a quick right on 1077 west, which turns to dirt after about 5 miles; follow signs to the office.
More info: Hill Country State Natural Area (210) 796-4413