Did you get out and enjoy a 1st Day Hike at one of the parks in Texas? I really hope you did. What are first-day hikes? Check out this post for more details! My family and I went to the park that started it all and had such a wonderful experience at one of my faves: Enchanted Rock State Natural Area.
This natural area was the reason I started hiking more, and the previous times I’d only be able to visit with my daughter, so I was thrilled that my wife was able to come with us on New Year’s Day.
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Enchanted Rock SNA to start 2022
Since my wife was visiting for the first time the Summit Trail (0.8 mi.) was the priority. We arrived at the park right at our 10:30 a.m. window, and while waiting in line at the checkpoint we could hear the ranger explaining to the car two ahead of us that they were full and not accepting any additional guests.
The park is two hours away from me, and I kinda felt bad for the people that drove all out this way only to be turned around, but we’re still seeing quite an increase of park visitors who don’t know about the reservation system in place. Especially for a holiday.
The sun was shining and there was a slight breeze in the morning, so we parked, packed our gear and snacks, and made our way to the beginning of the Summit Trail.
I’m still rocking my Osprey day pack with a bladder pouch, and my daughter had her original kid-sized REI day pack. As much as she’s outgrown it, it’s still a nice memory of how long she’s been using that pack.
We opted to take snacks with us, Kate’s Real Food bars, and leave our main lunch in the car for after the hike. We felt we had enough carbs in the morning and had plenty of water to get up the summit and down.
The crowds were definitely abundant, but the pink granite shined so beautifully in the sunlight. My wife was definitely excited to get to the top, so we made it up in record speed for my daughter and I, but once we got to the top we slowed it back down and enjoyed the view.
From groups of friends to other families, it was fun to sit and watch everyone in wonder as they enjoyed the vast views of the Texas hill country.
There were birds gliding in the breeze that we stopped to watch, and then we decided to hunt for the geological marker that I always forget its placement.
Once we found it we decided to make our way to the smaller caves just below the dome on the northern side.
Cave time and the rocks
My daughter and I skipped the cave on our last visit, but as she’s older she was apparently braver, so we both explored while my wife sat and watched our exploratory efforts.
There was a group of people that were there to do some bouldering, so we watched them climb above the giant rocks, and then from within the cavern, we could hear them above and see their shadows as each climbed over the gaps of the boulders.
There isn’t too much to this cave, but from outside it does look like it’s more cramped than it really is. With no one else in there, there was plenty of room to move to the other opening. From here you’re close to the entrance after navigating a few smaller rocks.
We left the cave and made our way to the eastern portion of the dome to admire the larger boulders that always seem out of place. Balancing their weight ever so gently, seemingly holding on to dear life before rolling down the side.
There was someone getting some good photos on the boulders, so I got my photos and we continued on to the Echo Canyon Trail below.
Echo Canyon Trail
The Echo Canyon Trail is 0.7 miles, and one of my favorite trails in the park.
This trail cuts through Enchanted Rock and Little Rock, but it’s filled with tricky terrain that makes you slow down and take notice of each step.
If you start from the southern part you’ll be rewarded with a stack of boulders formed into a little room once you get to the end, so that’s we stopped for a snack.
Another group of boulderers showed up with their heavy-duty mats and stood for a moment wondering whether this group of rocks would be interesting to climb.
After a brief moment, they agreed it was definitely worth exploring a bit more.
They each set their mats on the ground, changed into their climbing shoes and started to study the layout of the towering rocks. Looking intensely for a good path to take up, but they didn’t quite spend too much time looking for a way down.
After the first person made his way about halfway up he realized there wasn’t a great path down. He stopped for a moment and calculated his risks for jumping down to the shorter rock he just passed.
After the group helped realign the mats below he jumped down on the top of the rock, and then again to the mats below.
Meanwhile, another climber had made his way up and over to the top of the rock only to make his way down on the other side of the rock wall.
Such a fun way to enjoy our lunch!
Compost Toilets and the awkward interaction
The natural areas are different than the state parks in a lot of ways, but mostly with the accommodations. The water was already off in the park, so there were portable toilets surrounding the different parking lots, but within the park, there are vaulted compost toilets.
One of those toilets was near where we were having a snack, so I made my way to use the restroom and a group of people were at the entrance holding the door open.
Each person made their way in and out, but the last person apparently didn’t like where I was standing. (Nowhere near the door ), so one of the people asked me to move so their friend could “feel more comfortable”.
On their way out the one who asked me to move told me to prepare for the stench, and suggested to leave the door open.
I just smiled and nodded and went into the toilet area with the door closed, but I was still really uncomfortable that they suggested I was being a creeper. Oh well.
By the way, it smelled like a toilet.
The sun was a little warmer around our two-mile mark, and hiking towards the Moss Lake the shade started to subside.
Plenty of water in the lake was nice to see, so we stopped for a bit before hightailing it to the Loop Trail.
I definitely recommend hiking to the lake because when you turn around you’ll be in awe of the domes behind you in all of their glory. A lovely backdrop to admire, and enjoy where you may have just hiked.
The segment of the Loop Trail from here is pretty tame. We saw a lot more younger people hiking this section, but also some of the people staying in the nearby primitive campsites. There are two in this section of the park: Moss Lake Primitive Camping Area and Walnut Springs Primitive Camping Area.
Despite this section of the trail being mostly flat, there is a point of interest here that’s worth stopping at.
Number eight on the map is for a scenic overlook that’s a great place to watch a Texas sunset.
Otherwise, continue on towards the parking lot while passing a handful of designated climbing areas.
A note on pets at Enchanted Rock State Natural Area
A quick reminder for pet owners. Pets are prohibited on all elevated trails at Enchanted Rock SNA. They are allowed on the Loop Trail, picnic, and camping areas.
We saw some pet owners with their dogs on the boulders, which is also not allowed.
Did you get out on a 1st day hike?
I hope you enjoyed the visit recap of Enchanted Rock State Natural Area!
Were you able to get out on a first day hike? Comment below where you went.