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4/7/2018 1:16 PM

Texas Wildflower Trip Report: Hill Country 4/6/2018


Trip Date: 4/6/2018
Communities visited: Spring Branch, Johnson City, Marble Falls, Burnet

Routes: US 281, Park RD 4, Texas 29, RR-1869/1174, RR-1431

Total Miles traveled: 249+

Short Story

I took an afternoon whirlwind scouting trip on Friday (4/6/2018) to parts of the Hill Country. A few surprises were found, but overall there is not that much to see out there. The best coverage I saw was along US 281 beginning north of Texas 46 to RR-306 (details below).  Beyond that, I stopped 3 times in the five hours of driving.  Park RD 4 overall was bleak, especially from US 281 to Longhorn Caverns. I did stop twice along the stretch of Park RD 4 that goes north from RR-2342 (details below).  Along RR-1174 in the Balcones Canyonlands, I found one nice spot with a stretch of bluebonnets in front of a white fence (details below – photo above). Just as I have seen on all of my trips this spring, the areas are covered with green. Most everywhere else besides the three spots where I stopped on 4/5/2018 and 4/6/2018, the main color was green – green grass, green crops, green trees, green shrubs –  green, green, green, green! I did see color from patches and stretches here and there along the roads, but no fields – well I saw a large field of yellow bastard cabbage – the invasive mustard plant ( ). There were some spots here and there that had dry dead vegetation with little green, but not that widespread where I drove. What’s my point? I do not think the lack of color from wildflowers is due to a lack of rain since December 1st. I think the lack of color is due to the below normal rainfall in October and November last fall. Remember, most of our annual spring wildflowers including the two most popular species of bluebonnets will germinate in the fall month – mainly from September until the first freeze in November.  And October is probably the peak optimum time for germination.  Without plants you cannot have wildflower blooms and without lots of plants you cannot have dramatic displays.  That said, where there seems to have been sufficient rainfall in September-November is where we are seeing the best displays – albeit they are not widespread (See the Hill Country Update for a map of those areas - ). For the Hill Country right now, those areas are clustered around where Blanco, Llano and Burnet Counties connect – the convergence of US 290 – US 281 – Texas 71.  Colette Pearce, one of our veteran reporters was also out in the Hill Country this past Friday (4/6/2018) and she saw more coverage of bluebonnets than I did, especially along Texas 71 going west from Marble Falls area to Llano. She also found some prairie paintbrush, lace cactus cluster and white prickly poppies.   You can view the details of her report in the: Hill Country Recent Reports as of 4/6/2018 (scroll down to the 4/6/2018 section) -

Full Story

- US 281 north of Texas 46 to Marble Falls: Patches and stretches of bluebonnets from Texas 46 to Marble Falls. Very large nearly solid areas of bluebonnets in the medians and some shoulders in the Spring Branch area near and between FM 311 and FM 306. NOTE: This is a very busy portion of US 281 with lots of traffic. There is not safe parking along this stretch of the highway. I saw people parking along the roadside and in between medians on the crossovers. People are out in the bluebonnets in force! ***If you stop at this location, do so at your own risk! This is not safe for kids or adults!!! You have been warned!!***
-US 281 in Johnson City: Several areas about 1/3 to 1/2 of a football field on the right side of the road near where the entrance to the city park is and north of the US 290 exit. The US 290 and US 281 intersection median has some mixed wildflowers blooming.
- Park RD 4: The first part of the road going to Longhorn State Caverns is pretty much without any blooms of any kind. The first patches of bluebonnets I saw were north of the intersection with RR-2342. One very small stretch in front of the old cabin just across the road to the fish hatcheries. The sign says Clay Young RD.


Phone image uncut with minimal processing

- Park RD 4: A nice scene just before the bend towards where the old Highland Lakes golf course was located. A small stretch of bluebonnets flowing up the hill towards a tree. Not fully 100% covered, but nice with a few white and baby-blue bluebonnets in the scene.

Phone image uncut with minimal processing

- Texas 29 to a few miles beyond RR 1431: Saw very little at all...maybe a patch here and there. The wooden fence location just before 1431 was without blooms. 
- Texas 29 from Park 4 to RR-1869: Some patches and a few stretches, but nothing worthy of a photo to me that is.
- RR 1869/1174 to RR 1431: This road goes through the Balcones Canyonlands. One large yellow field - oh wait that's bastard cabbage! One nice scene along a white wooden fence with tree and narrow long stretch of bluebonnets on RR 1174 before CR 328 (see photo above). Other patches and some stretches here and there, but nothing more to photograph for me!
- RR 1431 from RR 1174 to Marble Falls: Only a few sprinkles in fields, patches and short stretches along the roadside.



There are wildflowers including bluebonnets out there in the areas of the Hill Country, but the coverage in my opinion is well below average in most spots. There are some nice surprises here and there with some decent coverage along parts of Texas 71, US 290 and US 281. What teases you if you are coming from San Antonio is the drive along US 281. You see these increasingly larger patches then long stretches then large areas of nearly solid bluebonnets in the median and shoulders of US 281. You start hoping and praying this is how it is going to be throughout the Hill Country, but that is not what I found everywhere.

Next Trips: I hope to swing through Brenham on the way to Ennis.   

Check here in the Texas Wildflower Reports 2018 section, in our seasonal updates section ( and on our Texas Wildflower Report Facebook Page ( for the latest reports.
For route maps with detailed notes do not forget our eBooks at:



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