Bikepacking combines the joy of riding a bike with the simplicity of backpacking. Find some our favorite backpacking routes along with some great options contributed by area cyclists.
College Station to Stubblefield Lake via Sam Houston National Forest - College Station, TX
An out-and-back journey through Central Texas starting in College Station with a good mix of gravel and paved roads ending in Sam Houston National Forest.
Route Metrics: 2 days total, out and back, College Station to Stubblefield Lake Campground (66 miles, 2,000 ft. elevation gain)
Route Description: The route starts at Aggieland Cycling and travels through College Station on bike paths and bike lanes before hitting Highway 30. This is perhaps the most unenjoyable part of the route, but it only lasts a couple of miles. After crossing a couple of bridges in the Navasota River floodplain, the route returns to some gravel and continues on gravel and low traffic country roads until Anderson.
In Anderson, there is a donut shop and Subway offering a place to eat and regroup. From there it continues on even more gravel to Richards which has a small grocery store. A little bit out of town is a Biker Bar with good BBQ. A few miles out of Richards, you will enter Sam Houston National Forest and continue on gravel roads through the pines to the campground at Stubblefield Lake Park.
Route Beta: This route is best enjoyed during the spring and fall months when temperatures are a bit more mild. Don’t let the bit on Highway 30 scare you, the rest of the route is a great break from the traffic of the city with a very small amount of cars except in Richards and Anderson. Reservations at Stubblefield can be made in advance to ensure a campsite, although I have always had good luck with walk up campsite selection.
Note: This route has much more gravel than Ride with GPS recognizes so be prepared for fun!
Resources: Check out the trip wrap up on Bikepacking.com from our shop outing with for a good overview.
Buffalo National River Packrafting - Compton, AR
If you are looking to journey even further into combinations of human powered transportation, check out packrafting. This route is great for beginners with limited white water experience and offers some incredible cycling in the southern tip of the Ozarks in Arkansas.
Route Metrics: 3 days total, 1 day on the bike (25 miles with 16 miles unpaved, 2,754 ft. elevation gain), and 2 days (23.7 miles) on the river.
Route Description: The route starts with one day of cycling and ends with two days on the Buffalo River. Park your car at Pruitt Landing and set off for the Poncha Low Water Bridge. The first 16 miles are mostly gravel with a healthy amount of climbing as you follow creeks to Compton. At Compton, there is a small outdoor outfitter with groceries. From there the road is paved with rolling hills and eventually a big descent to Steel Creek Campground.
The next two days consist of packrafting on the beautiful Buffalo. There is a smattering of Class I/II rapids on the first day and beginning of the second day with the river eventually becoming a bit more mellow. Numerous camping options are available in both unmarked and state operated campgrounds. Expect to see a good crowd of people out on the river during the middle section with still plenty opportunities for solitude on less busy stretches.
Route Beta: The best time to go is mostly dependent on water flow. The late winter can be good when winter rains still mean the river is running high while the spring offers optimal weather. The summer and fall are great times to be on the river but you might suffer from a lack of flow. Check the USGS Boxley gauge here, optimal gauge height is between 3.5′ and 5.6′. Be prepared for some climbing, especially with the weight of a packraft, those inclines sure add up. The gravel is pretty smooth and can be accomplished with most any gravel bike.
Resources: Check out Patrick from Bikes or Death write up on the trip here and contact local outfitters to learn more on river conditions. The linked Google map details the route, camping options, and relevant gauges on the stretch of the river.
Fort Boggy Boogey - Centerville, TX
The Fort Boggy Boogey starts in College Station and passes over a plethora of gravel roads on its way to Fort Boggy State Park. This route is an out-and-back that explores an area close to home that has alot to offer in terms of riding and camping.
Route Metrics: 70.7 miles , 1,9130 ft. of elevation gain one way
Route Description: This particular route starts at the shop, but it can easily be adapted for anywhere in College Station. The trick is to get to Long Trussel Road which is most easiest accomplished by getting to Elmo Weedon. From there the route passes over gravel roads to Iola. In Iola there is BBQ and a small store as far as services go. Then it departs Iola, with a return to gravel before you get near to Madisonville. There are quite a few services in Madisonville with plenty of restaraunt and store options.
The route then returns to gravel on your way to Leona. In Leona, we found a stellar option for dinner at the Leona general store. Don’t underestimate the size of their steaks, as there is still a small stretch left to go to the State Park. We chose to camp at one of the “walk-in” sites which offered a table and fire ring. Cabins and drive up sites are available as well.
This post also includes a gravel loop around Centerville if you would like to turn your bike outing into a three day trip. Breakfast at either the Town Cafe or the Buttercup Bakery is a good option, either on a three day trip or before your return.
Route Beta: The Leona General Store is only open from Thursday-Saturday, but try to make it as it is a great small town eat! Firewood can be purchased at the State Park.
Resources: There is not much available on this route, but feel free to ask us at the shop if you are interested in the route! The Fort Boggy State Park website has some information as well.