Pack your water bottles and grab your hiking shoes! When the weather warms up Central Texas, it’s easy to find yourself in search of outdoor activities to get yourself out of the house and into the sun.
If you haven’t had the chance, take a scenic drive through Central Texas and out to Fredericksburg to Enchanted Rock State Natural Area, where you can take in a bit of Lone Star history while admiring the awe-inspiring rock formations that make up the peaks of Enchanted Rock. Natural flora and fauna make appearances throughout the trails here, and you’re welcome to take in the natural rock by way of hiking, rock climbing and camping at designated spots around the park.
This giant pink granite formation, aptly named “Enchanted” by the Tonkawa Indians because of its magical glowing fires they saw atop the rock. Rumor has it that Spanish Conquistadors cast a spell on it, leaving it with this new magical power.
Whatever the early settlers saw on the top of that rock, we may never know, but the hill does seem to still have a sort of mystical and calming effect on people when they visit. At a hefty 425 feet tall, Enchanted Rock sits tall under the pale blue Texas sky, just beckoning people to trek to its very top in search of the best Hill Country views around.
Take a walk up Summit Trail, a 0.6 mile walk up a steadily increasing incline that ends at the highest point of the rock. Along the way stop at the gazebo and learn a bit about the history of the area from informative displays, and peer at the top from telescopes down below. It’s a bit humbling to gaze at the peak from the lowest point, knowing that in a handful of minutes you’re going to be at the top looking down.
When we visited during a cool February afternoon, we were greeted with a picturesque Texas setting only rivaled by postcards. I was in awe of the beautiful pink rock jetting out from underneath red Hill Country soil, still as energizing and yet relaxing as it was hundreds of years ago. This is a perfect place for bird watching and star gazing, which are two of the main activities that draw many out to the historic spot.
Surrounding the main rock are smaller formations like Little Rock, Freshman Mountain and Turkey Peak. You can take the 4 mile long Loop Trail for a view of the whole park, which encircles all three peaks and the several camping areas located throughout the space. Picnicking is also a great way to break up the hike and enjoy a bit of the park a little more, so bring a few snacks and don’t forget your trash bag for a quick clean up! Bring ample water — that Texas sun feels so much closer on the peak.
It’s a super fun activity for the whole family (dogs on leashes included!) so make a day out of it and enjoy your afternoon in a very Texas way.
Enchanted Rock State Natural Area (map)
16710 Ranch Rd. 965
Fredericksburg, TX 78624
Hours: 8 am – 10 pm
Kids 12 and under: free
Creative Commons Flickr Image of Enchanted Rock by J.B. Hill