Just 18 miles north of Fredericksburg, there raised a massive pink granite dome called Enchanted Rock that said has drawn people for thousands of years. After several visits to Fredericksburg, we finally made it there last year during spring break.
In our first attempt to get into the park, we had to turn around because the gate was closed and the wait line was about a mile long. The sign said the park would be open again in about 2-3 hours. There’s no way we would wait that long. We came back 2 days later, after the lady who camped with her children next to us said that we needed to leave early in the morning to make sure we could get in. They were pretty busy during spring break.
We arrived slightly before 8 a.m. and there wasn’t a line to the entrance at all. The weather was nice and the crisp air welcoming us at the base of the dome. We saw people from the distance, hiking almost to the top already. We also saw a lady who was on her way down. What time did she start? I wonder.
We took Summit Trail to the top (1,823 ft.), which was the most famous trail in the park. Our 9 year old son zoomed ahead of us and I had to warn him to slow down when I saw good spots for pictures because there was plenty of interesting rock formations on the way to the top.
The distance to the summit was .67 mi with difficulty challenging. It would take around 45 minutes to reach the top but we did it around 30 minutes. I think because that was the first activity we did for the day. I have to warn you that climbing the rock from this trail is like climbing the stairs of a 30- or 40-story building. So you better plan on doing it in the early morning.
When we reached the top, we filled up ourselves with water and snacks then started exploring the area. We saw several vernal pools that developed into microhabitats, home to a unique group of plants and animals. We looked for fairy shrimp, a tiny translucent freshwater shrimp that live in this pool but we couldn’t see any. These pools were very fragile so don’t let your dog drink the water (pets are no longer allowed but I saw a lady brought hers). We could also see part of Fredericksburg from the top.
Our son had a blast here; climbing and crawling in a huge open area. He found a cave like between the rocks and followed it to the other end. There was another boy in front of him and they both tried to find the way out together. A father and his son were standing at the other end and told them to crawl carefully from a small opening because there were cactus along the sides. His son told the father to stop giving them direction. Apparently he came out from there fast without thinking and… yes, he fell on the cactus and he still had thorns on his bottom. The boy who was crawling in front of my son was his younger brother and he wanted his brother fell on the cactus, too. Oh, boy!
After spending about an hour at the top, we went down from a different side that took us to Echo Canyon Trail. It was much easier but our son made his own trail, choosing the steeper one. The difficulty of Echo Canyon Trail was moderate-challenging. I think because part of the trail full with big rocks. We yelled to hear our echo but we didn’t hear anything. Too many people?? Echo Canyon ended at Moss Lake but we didn’t go that far. We stopped around the massive boulders, watching someone learning to repel. On the way back, I saw these elderly couples from the summit. I couldn’t help myself to ask the man his age because he still looked healthy and fresh. Well, he was 87 and would turn 88 in 2 months! Wow!
Enchanted Rock is an exfoliation dome
Besides Enchanted Rock, there are Little Dome, Turkey Peak, and others that look like a dome as well in the same location. The domes are a small and visible part of a huge underground area of granite called a batholith. The Enchanted Rock Batholith stretches 62 squares miles and most of it is underground.
When you pay a close attention, you will see that the surface of the Enchanted Rock has layers like an onion. It appears to be solid and durable, but it continues to change and erode until today. After the rock and soil on top wore away, the granite expanded slightly because there was less weight bearing down on it. The expansion caused the dome to split into curved sections. As the outer layer of rock breaks into smaller pieces and slides off, the next layer begins to peel away from the dome. That’s why they call Enchanted Rock an exfoliation dome, as are the other domes there.
Visited: Spring Break 2016.
Location: 16710 Ranch Road 965, Fredericksburg, TX 78624. Phone: (830) 685-3636.
– September through May is their busy season. Call ahead if the park is full or not.
– You can make online reservation (521) 389-8900 or take a tour bus from the city.
– Entrance fee: $7/adult; free for kids 12 and under.
– Open daily from 8 a.m.-10 p.m.
– May close in wet weather.
– You can camp, rock climb, picnic, study nature, bird watch, geocache, and stargaze as well.
– Summit Trail may look easy but the hiking difficulty is in challenging category. You might take Echo Canyon Trail then climb to the top at the connecting trail. From the top you can go down trough Summit Trail. It will be much easier.
– Arrive early. 8 a.m. is the right time to make sure you get in.
Note: go to http://tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/enchanted-rock for more information.
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