PLACES TO GO ON LAND DESTRESS OUTDOORS HOME PLACES TO GO ON WATER
Enchanted Rock State Park near Fredericksburg, Texas
this park with my parents last year, and we’d climbed up what they call the
Pinnacle Trail to the top of Enchanted Rock. It was a real
quad and lung-buster of a hike, but it was also a very rewarding one, as we were
able to see for miles of
On the way out
from my parents’ place outside
interest was the
I pulled in the park, parked the car, and went in to pay the $6 fee (they take credit cards). The people there didn’t seem to be in the best mood, which was a bit at odds with the beautiful environment, but they did take my money, er, credit. After paying, I veered right on the roads until I came to a little parking circle, and I then headed off on down the Loop Trail around the park.
This trail is a
4.1 (emphasis on
.1!) mile loop around
the periphery of the entire park to include both Enchanted Rock (which I’ll
refer to from here on out as the “Rock”) and
There are many others trails as well (although not all of these are “legal” ones!) that zigzag all over the place. Still yet, in back of the Rock, there are little trails off the main ones which lead directly to the Rocks’ face for climbing access. These are designated trails though, and they’re marked as such, with their own special trail signs. (In fact, on the back of the map of the park you can get when you pay, there are a few dozen of these different climbing areas!)
Needless to say then, you can make up many combinations of the trails to make your hiking day as long or short as you want. Since I’d been waiting quite a while to get back here though, I ended up doing the loop trail, followed by the Pinnacle Trail, then down the face of the Rock, and finally around about half of Echo Canyon/Turkey Pass around the Rock before the skies began to look ominous.
Starting out on the loop trail, it became clear that this was going to be an absolutely wonderful day, as the trail wound and undulated along and sometimes across a very nearly dry Sandy Creek (actually, the book I used as a guide for this hike, 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles – Austin/San Antonio edition (http://www.menasharidge.com/product.php?productid=16189&cat=0&page=1) has a picture from this hike on the cover).
junction you’ll come to is that for
Continuing along the creek bed from here, you’ll have a continuous mountain backdrop to keep you company, and if you look closely, you may be able to see little specks on top which will probably be people walking around up there. Some of them may come from the Buzzards Roost Primitive Campground which will have a sign for it at the next trail junction.
path would take you to the right, but you’ll want to take a sharp left if you
want to keep following the loop. I must say though, that at
this point I was a tad disappointed – I wanted to keep going straight!
One note – as I passed some of the trees I noticed what sounded like bee swarms. I never saw a large swarm, but upon looking more closely, I did see that they were just scattered individually all around. It sure sounded like a ton of them though, and I didn’t stick around too long to find out too much more! Just… mosyin’… onthrough!
The trail from here seems to take on the characteristics of a sandy gravel roadbed, and as I continued on, I passed many different kinds of blooms on the plants – including the cacti, which had some of the most amazing.
I also noticed the Spanish moss in the live oak trees along the trail which brought back memories of the time I once lived in the state, and as I looked back at the Rock from this direction, it appeared as if it was cracking like an eggshell with the actual shell slowly falling down the side with the assistance of gravity!
the next trail junction (I believe this was the Turkey Pass Trail which had
caught back up with the Loop Trail), I came to a tree which I just HAD to take a
picture of. Now, this one has personality!
It’s the perfect Halloween Tree, and at about this point, you’ll be able to get
a great picture of the back of the 2 peaks (the Rock and
The path is quite flat by this point too, but you won’t mind as the views are simply amazing! I’m not absolutely sure, but I may have wound up taking more pictures on this trip (223) than on any hike I’ve ever taken – I simply could not stop taking pictures! The loop hike is supposed to take about 2 hours, but it took me 3.
There was one area in this section that was particularly picturesque. The scene is below – a sweet little oasis! This was one spot where I definitely saw the specks of people atop the Rock. I wondered if they could see me too…
I was wearing my bluegrass blue
There’s a point
after this at which the trail almost bumps up against a ranch fence (farms are
called ranches in
The trail signs can be kind of confusing though, and I was trying to match them up with the hiking guide I had. There was a point at which the path cut very sharply left, and it was clear that the main path continued on this way, but I wanted to check out the Walnut Springs Primitive Campground so I veered right across a mown path which would eventually catch back up with the loop trail.
As I followed it, I was led down into a little ravine which bottomed at a dry streambed and some nice looking campsites. The path didn’t seem to be as well followed as the loop trail though, and when I eventually emerged, I saw a sign indicating that the section was supposed to be closed to park visitors. Ooops! I had not seen a sign like this when I entered from the other direction!
I saw some
fantastic plants though, the likes of which I’d not seen before.
Granted, I’m visiting
There was also one point at which it looked like you could go in 4 different directions, and each one was, in fact, quite inviting – so I took a picture in each direction!
One disappointing thing though when I did get back to the loop trail, was that the overlook which branched off from it was also closed to visitors like the Walnut Springs area. I honored the sign, but I’m sure it would really have been nice to see!
You’ll start to notice large boulders here and there alongside the trail at this point with little pathways leading up to them, and I took some of these. Most of them will take you right up to the rocks, where you can climb them if you want. They won’t be as high at the Rock, but you will get some interesting perspectives, and some of them will have pretty sweet sculpture-like formations as well – carved by Mother Nature, of course. A couple of my favorites are below.
As I came to the last section of the loop, a real maze of different paths began to reveal itself, the trodding of which had probably been assisted over the years by all the campers visiting the campground that would soon become visible up ahead. This one is all class, too – very nice and shaded by the little leaves of the live oaks scattered about.
the population boom in
By now there were plenty of people around, a few camping and a lot climbing up the Pinnacle Trail. Interestingly, this crowd could not be defined by age. There were families with young children, seniors, and groups of what sounded like boisterous teenagers. I was pretty crazy as a teen too though, and when I think back on some of the things I did in order to seek peer approval, I absolutely just cringe! Therefore, while I do like teens, I tried to avoid them on this day – too unpredictable. This did alter my plans slightly, but not overly so.
The Pinnacle Trail was next. I could not have come out here without doing it. The views are simply amazing and the challenge would be a nice contrast to the relatively flat path I had just taken. As mentioned before though, finding the correct path at first proved to be somewhat of a challenge given the maze of different routes. I found myself on a couple different ones before I eventually caught up with the right trail.
mentioned before, this hike is a real lung buster but the panoramic views atop
this granite mountain are well worth it and once at the top, I skirted around
the perimeter of the Rock in order to catch different glimpses of the loop trail
I had just taken in the distance. There was also a lone hiker
taking a breather atop
When I got to
the northwest side, I got a nice view of
Very carefully I meandered down, and once there, I found a map of the backside rock trails as well as a primitive bathroom (there are a few of these around on the trails). My time was running out, however, due to darkening skies (I would end up just missing a thunderstorm), so I wasn’t able to take the detour to the lake. I instead chose what I guessed was a good and fairly direct way to head back – through half of the Echo Canyon/Turkey Pass loop around the base of the Rock.
I was getting a bit tired at this point too, so I was about ready to get back, but my problem was that the scenery was so awesome, it seemed like I was stopping at every curve to take another picture!
In fact, my
favorite part of this whole day was, I think, the section of trail that went
between the Rock and
You’ve got to keep a keen eye out here for the path because it can be quite confusing in this area too. That’s because a lot of the trail goes over rocks, where there aren’t any signs. It’s good to take a guide book with you if you’re coming out for the fist time.
When I got to a little frog pond, I was almost back at the first trail junction I’d come to at the beginning of the day (the group pavilion was ahead), and once back at the parking lot I headed out. This was an incredible experience which I highly recommend. If you can get out here on a weekday though, it would probably be preferable since the park is very popular, and they say it often fills to capacity early on weekends. Admission is free for seniors, by the way.