Texas Hill Country: Devil’s Backbone – Ranch Road 12 & 32


Leaving San Marcos and Interstate 35 behind, I plunged into the Texas Hill Country on a road that I hoped would be dramatically scenic.  A road known as “Devil’s Backbone” couldn’t miss, I figured.

But, the weather was working against me.  It wasn’t rainy, just overcast and dreary.  It also didn’t help that I was visiting the area just a few weeks before spring had thoroughly sprung.

Maybe it was the cloudy skies that were depressing my sense of excitement, but the Devil’s Backbone didn’t quite live up to my expectations.  Above, you see the highway’s most dramatic point — the actual “backbone” — where the road runs along a narrow ridge, with precipitous drops on either side.

There are some nice views here, but of course, the weather was ruining them on this particular day.  Also, I was expecting a more dramatic, hair-raising tight-rope feel, the kind I got on The Hogback on Utah’s Route 12 or the Skyline Drive in Canon City, Colorado.  Sorry, Texans, FM 12 and 32 don’t even come close.

That’s not to say these backroads from San Marcos to Blanco aren’t scenic.  There are some nice views, where the road overlooks a beautifully rolling landscape.  FM 12 and 32 are very popular with motorcycle riders, and it is a fun, curvy route to drive.

The only thing close to a “town” along the way is Fischer, which doesn’t offer much more than a post office and the old Fischer Store, which was closed when I drove by (not surprising, since it was a Sunday morning).

The Devil’s Backbone Scenic Drive begins in San Marcos.  Look for RM 12, a.k.a Ranch Road 12 or Hopkins Street, which runs in front of the Hays County Courthouse.  Follow RM 12 until it intersects with RM 32, then follow Route 32 west, then northwest towards Blanco.  The most dramatic part of the “backbone” is on RM 32, a couple of miles after the split.

Drivelapse Video

Don’t let my cloudy day ruin your impression of the Devil’s Backbone Scenic Drive.  Watch the Drivelapse video of the road, and judge for yourself:

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