Texas Road Trip to Spring

Discover endless fields of wildflowers and small-town charms on this East Texas drive.
Jennifer Mckenzie Frazier

You long for an escape--one brimming with delightful scenery and fresh air. As the roadside medians begin to explode with dancing wildflowers, now is the time to plan a country drive. We're giving you a month's notice so you can wipe a day on your calendar clean. Fill up the gas tank; we're getting out of the city.

Not Far From Home
About 135 miles northeast of Dallas, the tiny towns of Hughes Springs, Avinger, and Linden celebrate spring in a big way. While the rest of the state is covered in bluebonnets, this part of Texas boasts the other side of the color wheel--red, orange, and yellow.

From Dallas, take I-30 east until you hit the exit for State 49 (U.S. 271) that leads to Avinger. Once you arrive, you'll find a triangle of roads, formed by State highways 11 (Linden to Hughes Springs), 49 (Hughes Springs to Avinger), and 155 (Avinger to Linden), that make up the driving trail.

As you follow these slow-moving roads, spy scenes of vast, brightly colored pastures bursting with wildflowers and dotted with barns and grazing cattle. Solid yellow replaces patches of green grass for miles. The occasional sunny swath of coreopsis will be broken by crimson clover, bold Indian paintbrush, or fiery red buckeye.

Dare to detour, and explore one of the less-traveled farm roads. It is on these no-name paths where you can truly feel the heart of the state and fill your lungs with clean spring air. George Fite, Hughes Springs' city manager, suggests a drive down Farm Road 161, a route that meanders through solid fields of coreopsis. "Sometimes it looks like it has snowed yellow because the flowers are so thick," he says. "When you're on these small roads, you can take a deep breath without someone looking at you. It's beyond peaceful."

Paula Aleman of Linden suggests a ride down State 8 and U.S. 59, where the wildflower seedlings are protected by the state. Although some of the best color can be found on these paths, it is easy to get turned around. Before you venture out, grab a map at the Hughes Springs City Hall, located at 603 East First Street; (903) 639-7519.

 

A Family Celebration
In honor of spring, this trio of towns hosts a month of homespun events, including a festival to kick off the blooming season. Although the happenings start the beginning of April, the Wildflower Festival occurs April 21 through 24. On these dates you'll enjoy the best blooms of the year.

During the festival, you can catch a parade in each of the three tiny towns. You'll find live music on the streets, bake sales, and little Mr. and Miss Wildflower pageants. Each town's plan boasts a unique event such as a rodeo in Linden, an art show in Avinger, and a carnival in Hughes Springs.

Seeing the Town
If April 21 through 24 is already filled on your calendar, don't rule out a trip to the area. There are other activities to check out, and the wildflowers will bloom for a few more weekends.

Hometown of Don Henley, Linden is known for its great music. The Music City Texas Theater has live concerts and impressive performers.

For a terrific steak, eat at Avinger's Five D Cattle Co. Chaps and saddles serve as decorations and are as enjoyable as the hearty cuts of beef.

After you fill up, swing by "Avinger's little Wal-Mart," Harris Mercantile & Trading Co. This store sells everything from horse bits to children's toys. There's only one bad thing about this drive and the wildflowers, says one local. "The crummy part is that we can't see these pretty flowers all year long."

 

Identifying What You Spy
Before you grab the car keys, contact the Texas Department of Transportation's Travel Division for a free brochure titled "Wildflowers of Texas." The pamphlet highlights a slew of blooms and gives a description of each. It also describes the regions of the state and tells what wildflowers you'll find where. To request a copy, call
1-800-452-9292.

For a "Wildflower Trails of Texas" brochure, contact Hughes Springs City Hall, P.O. Box 805, Hughes Springs, TX 75656; (903) 639-7519. Linden: P.O. Box 1229, Linden, TX 75563; (903) 756-7774 or www.lindentexas.org. Avinger: P.O. Box 356, Avinger, TX 75630; (903) 562-1000.

This article is from the March 2005 issue of Southern Living. Because prices, dates, and other specifics are subject to change, please check all information to make sure it's still current before making your travel plans.