I regularly get questions from new Texas dual sport adventure riders about the riding in Texas so I thought I would put together this FAQ. I hope you find it helpful.
Where can I ride off road?
Sorry, there is almost no public off-road riding in Texas. Unlike states west of us, Texas has very little public land, which means we have very little public off-road riding. The Sam Houston National Forest has some motorized trails but that’s really about it.
If you want to ride off-road, then your best bet is the various pay-to-ride off-road parks. A google search will help you locate the ones in your area.
If I can’t ride off-road in Texas, what can I ride?
You can ride public dirt roads. Most rural counties have many miles of non-paved county roads that can be lots of fun to ride on dual sport adventure bikes. It’s not off-road riding, it’s off-pavement riding. But it’s fun nonetheless.
Where can I ride?
The two best riding areas in Texas are the hill country and Big Bend. The east Texas piney woods has some interesting stuff too but the best riding is found in central and west Texas.
Texas Hill Country
The hill country west of Hwy 281 is full of fun paved and non-paved roads. Starting in Llano and following the main roads, draw a line from Llano through Mason, Junction, Rocksprings, Camp Wood, Leakey, Medina, Kerrville, Fredericksburg and back to Llano. The area inside the boundary you just drew is where the best riding in the hill country is located. Not that there aren’t fun roads to ride outside the encircled area, but the highest concentration of great roads are within the bounded area. To find those roads grab a Roads of Texas atlas and go exploring. Or buy my hill country ride guide and it will point you to the paved and non-paved roads I think are the best in the area.
Big Bend is the other top riding area in Texas. The Big Bend region consists of Big Bend National Park, Big Bend Ranch State Park, and Terlingua Ranch. There is no public off-road riding anywhere in the Big Bend region. Neither the national or state parks allow off-road riding and Terlingua Ranch is all private property. However, there are a number of poorly maintained and a few unmaintained public dirt roads in both parks that are open to motorized, street legal vehicles. Those dirt roads are tons of fun! Many Texas dual sport riders plan an annual trip to Big Bend just to ride those roads. Terlingua Ranch has at least 1000 miles of dirt roads but as I noted it is private property generally open to Terlingua Ranch property owners and their guests.
Where else can I ride?
The next two closest areas are Arkansas and Mexico.
The Ouachita Mountains are located in southwest section of Arkansas and you can find a little bit of fun dual sport riding there (basically the K Trail and the Talimena Scenic Drive).
The Ozark Mountains in the northwest corner of Arkansas offer a wealth of great on- and off-pavement riding and even some public off-road riding. That’s where most Texas dual sport riders go when they want to ride in Arkansas.
The national forest service publishes the MVUM (motor vehicle use map), which is a decent source for finding off-pavement and off-road riding spots. I also sell a ride guide to northwest Arkansas.
The mountains south of Monterrey are home to the single best dual sport riding within a day’s ride of Texas. The riding is magnificent, it’s a lot closer than Colorado, and you can ride there year round. The quality of the riding can’t be overstated – nothing else within a day’s ride of Texas comes close to this part of Mexico.
There are two GPS maps (Bici Maps and the E32 map) of Mexico. Mexico also publishes some topo maps you can buy from various sources (google it). I sell a ride guide for this area too.
I don’t know anyone. How can I meet other dual sport adventure riders?
Two Wheeled Texans has the most active dual sport community in Texas. If you aren’t already a member, I urge you to join. Most organized rides get posted there, including day rides. It’s a great resource for finding out about upcoming events and meeting other dual sport riders.
What should I carry while riding?
Spare front and rear tubes (if your bike has tubed tires), patch kit, air pump (set up so it is powered by your bike), tire tools, a basic tool set, and any spare parts for known problem areas on your bike.
What is the best bike?
There is no #1 best bike. All dual sport adventure motorcycles have strengths and weaknesses. Every rider is different. The challenge is to pick the one bike that is best for you. This guide might help.
I don’t have any dirt experience. How can I learn?
Start by riding all the dirt roads within a 200 mile radius of your home. After you can handle the dirt roads with ease, continue to improve your skills by regularly visiting the closest private off-road park. By the time you have mastered all the trails at the private park you will be quite skilled.
You might also consider attending a training class such as the one offered by Rawhyde Adventures (I have no affiliation with them or any other school).