Enchanted Rock is a pink granite dome that rises 425 feet above the surrounding area in central Texas — but it’s just the exposed part of the largest batholiths in North America. The Enchanted Rock batholith stretches 62 miles — mostly underground. Humans have been visiting this rock for 12,000 years, and some believe it has spiritual significance.
We hiked the Summit Trail at Enchanted Rock on a recent trip to Texas. I had never been hiking in Texas, and I was eager to explore. We headed north from San Antonio towards Fredricksburg — a small town with German heritage — and at 18 miles away — the closest to Enchanted Rock. It really does feel like the proverbial middle of nowhere.
The trail starts at the end of the parking lot. You descend stairs to a small creek, then follow the signs as the trail picks it’s way up towards the base of the pink granite dome.
At the 0.2 mile mark, the Summit Trail essentially disappears in the solid granite of Enchanted Rock. Not to worry. Just keep heading “up” and you’ll be going in the right direction. Climbing “The Rock” is roughly equivalent to climbing the stairs in a 30- to 40-story building, and while it’s not particularly dangerous or difficult, I would label this a moderately difficult hike if for no other reason than to warn away non-hikers.
At the top, the Rock levels off to a large, fairly flat top dotted with small vernal pools. These pools are formed from pockets in the granite, and support small and very fragile ecosystems that take decades to develop. Do not step in the pools or disturb the plants or wildlife. Take pictures and leave it at that.
On this frosty winter day, the vernal pools were glazed with a frosty coat of ice. And me in my Sport Kilt. Brrrr…
The top of Enchanted Rock is so rounded, that it was challenging to find the USGS benchmark at the summit. We persisted, and found it near the western shoulder of the dome.
The return trip is a little tricky. Because there is no path — nor were there cairns to mark the way — you have to rely on your own keen sense of direction to retrace your steps. Joan and her sister headed down about 10 minutes before me, while I hung around taking photos and soaking in the views. I was a little surprised when I got to the bottom and beat them back to the trailhead. It turns out, they went down the “wrong” way. Fortunately, they hit the Loop Trail which runs completely around the dome and enjoyed some different scenery on their way back.
Enchanted Rock is proof that there is hiking in Texas. And while there may have not been towering spires, it possessed it’s own calm beauty that made the trip and the hike worth taking.
Enchanted Rock Summit Trail Map
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Enchanted Rock Tips
- Entrance fees are $7 per adult. Children under 12 are free.
- If the park fills up, they don’t allow more people in. And since it’s 18 miles from the nearest town, that could be a long, disappointing detour. Leave early and call ahead to make sure it’s open.
- Lunch in Fredricksburg! We ate at the Old German Bakery and Restaurant.
More Enchanted Rock Resources
- Enchanted Rock State Natural Area – official website
- Printable Park Map – PDF
- Follow Enchanted Rock on Twitter
- Enchanted Rock Legends – Texas State Historical Association