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Enchanted Rock Offers a Variety of Hikes

By Shannon Blackburn - June 4th, 2001

Enchanted Rock State Natural Area encompasses 1,643 acres and draws countless visitors to its distinctive 500-foot-high dome of pink granite, which is second only in size to Georgia's Stone Mountain. Designated a National Natural Landmark, Enchanted Rock is an impressive geological feature with an estimated age of one billion years, making it among the oldest exposed rock in North America.

Visitors to Enchanted Rock enjoy numerous activities, including: hiking, backpacking, rock climbing, primitive camping, picnicking and nature study. Bicycling is permitted on paved roads only.

The park offers 7 miles of hiking trails, including the popular 6/10 mile Summit Trail, a 425-foot elevation gain hike to the top of Enchanted Rock. After periods of rainfall, depressions in the granite dome called vernal pools collect rainfall and nurture fragile grass, wildflower and fairy shrimp communities. Winding around the Rock is the 4 mile Loop Trail, a favorite among hikers and backpackers.

For experienced rock climbers, the park's 1,000 foot long Enchanted Rock Fissure -- one of the largest known granite caves -- promises a challenge on its steep and slippery surfaces. A list of over forty-five established rock climbing routes is available at the park headquarters. A day use fee is required.

Hiking
The most popular hike in the park is the short but steep hike to the summit of Enchanted Rock. I've seen young children and senior citizens alike tackle the rock with no difficulty, but footwear with good traction is important.

I also highly recommend hiking the Loop Trail. During an August 1995 hike, I had the entire trail to myself and encountered abundant wildlife, including: white-tailed deer, buzzards (appropriately, the largest concentration was near "Buzzard's Roost"), lizards, rabbits and a fox. Numerous primitive campsites are accessible via the Loop Trail. Although portions of the Loop Trail near Sandy Creek are sometimes overgrown with brush, please follow the Leave No Trace ethic; except during periods of heavy rain, hikers can easily divert to the dry creekbed to minimize impact.

Trip Planner

Location: Enchanted Rock State Natural Area is located 18 miles north of Fredericksburg on Ranch Road 965, or take Highway 16 for 14 miles south from Llano, and then west on Ranch Road 965 for 8 miles.

Hours: Open 7 days a week year-round, from 8:00am until 10:00pm except for overnight guests. During periods of peak usage such as holidays and weekends, the park temporarily closes to visitors and reopens at 5:00pm; visitors who are turned away are urged to visit other area parks or return after 5:00pm.

For more information visit: The City of Llano web site (http://www.llanotx.com).

Or write: Enchanted Rock State Natural Area, Route 4, Box 170, Fredericksburg, TX, 78624.

Or call: Ranger Station, (915)247-3903 or State Park Reservations, (512)389-8900.

Note: Call the Texas Parks & Wildlife information hotline at 1-800-792-1112 prior to planning your fall visit to the park; when controlled public hunts are in progress, general park access is not permitted. The hotline is available between 8:00am and 5:00pm Monday through Friday.


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