Enchanted Rock has been on my destination list since I moved to Texas. It took me four years to make my way out to the lovely, quaint German town of Fredericksburg, known for the German cuisine, boutiques, warm B & Bs, and the most famed, Enchanted Rock.
The 1,643-acre Enchanted Rock State Natural Area is about 17 miles (20 minute drive) north of central Fredericksburg, Texas and is known for its Summit Trail that leads hikers up a 500-foot dome to a pink granite summit. Looking at it from afar, it’s quite the spectacle, documented to be the second largest formation of its kind in North America. Enchanted Rock, now a national natural landmark, is also noted to be the oldest exposed rock in America with an estimated age of one billion years old. People have said that the granite sparkles on rainy nights and creaks on cool nights, which may have bolstered a great number of stories. Scientists have attributed the granite’s glistening abilities to trapped water in the rough rock surfaces, and the creaking to the cooling, constriction of the rock’s surface after a hot day.
It is also documented in several Indian legends, both feared and revered among the Comanche and Tonkawa tribes. One of the legends tells of an Indian chief that sacrificed his daughter to the gods. As punishment he was doomed to walk Enchanted Rock forever, and the indentations at the summit are his footprints. One of the stories that was deemed true was honored by a plaque in 1936 near the summit of Enchanted Rock. The story states that Captain John Coffee Hays was separated from his crew of Texas Rangers by an invading Comanche tribe in 1841. Captain Hays sought refuge at Enchanted rock, and fought off the tribe over a three-hour battle. Hay’s single-handed victory further fueled the Indians’ superstitions that the pink dome was possessed by vengeful spirits.
There are 7 miles of hiking trails in total, while the summit trail is approximately 1.3 miles round trip with a 425 ft elevation gain. The Loop Trail (4 miles) circles the base of Enchanted Rock and is also a popular hike for many backpackers. A lot of white-tailed deer, lizards, birds, rabbits, and rare wildflowers have been sighted along the Loop Trail. Rock-climbers have also traveled to the pink granite dome to climb the 1,000 ft fissure – one of the largest granite caves – among the other 45 established rock-climbing routes.
Enchanted Rock is also favored for its picnicking, primitive camping, birding, and stargazing. Bring a lot of water, comfortable/sturdy hiking boots or tennis shoes and start in the early morning or late afternoon to avoid the extreme heat. The Summit Trail was beautiful – peering down on the different landscapes speckled in desert rock and wildflowers was quite the visual treat. Happy reading!
Enchanted Rock Summit Trail Details:
- Distance: 1.3 miles
- Time: 60 minute hike
- Difficulty: Moderate
- Best time: September – May (Fall, Spring)
- Elevation Gain: 425 ft.
- Dogs: Unfortunately, dogs are not allowed on the trails.
For more information about Enchanted Rock State Natural Area.
NOTE: All blog posts, articles, and photographs are the intellectual and creative property of Melissa J. Koziol. Thank you for reading!