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The first time we tried to leave Austin (before we realised we’d left our passports in Florida) we headed out to do the Enchanted Rock hike just a short drive west of Austin. Along the way, we passed Hamilton Pool and had planned on taking a quick dip but the $15 entrance fee for an hour put us off (together with the fact that we couldn’t even have gone swimming that day as the bacteria levels were too high). So, we carried on to Enchanted Rock State Park instead.
One of the things that constantly surprised me about America during our 3-month USA road trip was just how many beautiful wilderness areas there were. I mean, it makes sense, the country is huuuuge. But I guess I’d just never really considered it beforehand.
Enchanted Rock State Natural Park is one such example of what I’m talking about. It’s a massive pinkish dome and has drawn people to it for thousands of years. It really is easy to see where it gets its name from. We visited just as the sun was beginning to set which made it all the more pink and enchanting but you could easily spend a day there.
There are many miles of Enchanted Rock trails within the park. Some go up the rock and some go around it. Given that we’d arrived quite late we decided to quickly do the summit trail which, as the name suggests, takes you to the summit of Enchanted Rock.
If you’re travelling in Texas, it’s well worth visiting Enchanted Rock and doing some of the hikes in Enchanted Rock Park.
About Enchanted Rock, Texas
Enchanted Rock is a big, 120m above the surrounding areas in central Texas. It’s part of the Enchanted Rock batholith (a large mass of intrusive igneous rock like Half Dome in Yosemite) which is mostly underground and stretches for 62 miles. People have been visiting the area for over 12,000 years and it’s believed to have some spiritual significance.
In the park, there’s camping, picnic spots 8.4 miles of hiking trails, interpretive exhibits, rock climbing and wildlife spotting opportunities. The park is open 7 days a week but does sometimes reach capacity so check online to see if they’re closed before you go.
Where is Enchanted Rock?
Enchanted Rock is in Texas and the closest town is the town of Fredricksburg, about 18 miles away. Visiting Enchanted Rock after lunch or breakfast in Fredericksburg is a great idea.
For some Enchanted Rock directions, drive on Ranch Road 965, or take Highway 16 south for 14 miles from Llano and the Ranch Road 965 west to Enchanted Rock State Natural Area.
Enchanted Rock hiking trails
We decided to do Enchanted Rock summit trail. The trail starts at the far end of the parking lot and starts by descending some stairs to a small creek. From here, follow the signs as you head to the bottom of the dome and up to the top.
Around the 0.2 mile marker of hiking Enchanted Rock, Tx the signs kind of disappear. Don’t worry though, you’re just heading ‘up’ so walk upwards and you’ll make it to the summit.
To hike Enchanted Rock you should know that it’s roughly the equivalent of climbing stairs in a 30-40-storey building so it can be quite tiring.
Nearing the top there are a couple of small vernal pools which are formed from pockets in the granite rock and have tiny, fragile ecosystems. Admire them from afar and don’t step into them or you risk damaging the wildlife.
Once you reach wherever you deem to be the summit, snap away at the surrounding views and head back down. Again, it’s not signposted but going ‘down’ will either get you straight back to the car park or to the Enchanted Rock loop trail which circles the bottom of Enchanted Rock.
- Distance: 1.3 miles
- Time: 60 min.
- Difficulty: Moderate
- Elevation gain: 120m
- Dogs: No
- When to go: Sept.-May (when it’s not too hot)
Enchanted Rock climbing
Are you a climber? There are several climbing routes at Enchanted Rock Park. They’re mostly trad climbing with one top-roping route and a couple of sport climbs at Enchanted Rock. The most difficult climbing route is a 10b, so there’s nothing too hard. You can see the climbs at Enchanted Rock here.
Enchanted Rock campsite areas
If you want to spend the weekend in Enchanted Rock State Natural Area you can book a campsite. You will need to book these campsites in advance and can do so online.
There are a couple of different campsite options when it comes to Enchanted Rock camping. There’s a group campsite with room for up to 75 campers which costs $100 a night. It’s close to climbing and hiking, has a private entrance, a composting toilet and its own parking. You need to hike about 1.5 miles to get there and there’s no water. Also make sure to carry out all your trash.
Alternatively, you can book a smaller campsite for your camping at Enchanted Rock. These are either as primitive campsites or walk-in campsites. The walk-in campsites have access to water, showers and washrooms and cost $18 per night. The primitive campsites at Moss Lake (8 sites) and Walnut Springs (12 sites) are roughly a 1-3 mile hike. They cost $14 a night.
Tips for visiting Enchanted Rock in Fredericksburg, Tx
- Enchanted Rock hours: open daily from 8 am – 10 pm, trails close at sunset.
- It’s $7 per adult but if you visit after 6 pm the gates aren’t always manned.
- There are 8.4 miles of hiking trails at Enchanted Rock. View the Enchanted Rock trail map here to download and print.
- There is no food available in the park so bring your own. There are water fountains to re-fill bottles though.
- The park gets very busy on weekends and national holidays. Plan accordingly, ideally call in advance.
- No pets on the summit trail.
- Take a look at this Enchanted Rock map to get your bearings.