Enchanted Rock State Natural Area
Read more to learn how this park changed my life
If you don’t experience anxiety it’s really hard to explain. Imagine feeling a panic sensation, but it lasts for days. It’s anxiousness that consumes your entire body, and is a huge distraction to your day-to-day life. That sums it up I guess.
In 2018 I finally decided I was going to try and exercise more to fight off all of that extra energy. I was going to try and become a runner. I’ve never enjoyed running growing up, but I felt that if I stuck to it I’d learn how and eventually run a marathon.
I bought all of the running clothes, bought new shoes and I ran. Or at least I really tried. I worked retail for over a decade, so I already walked really fast, but I figured if I just kept it up I’d change my body to start running. Through the constant knee pain and not being able to get my breathing right I almost gave up.
For my birthday I decided to take my daughter on a trip to Enchanted Rock State Natural Area. After all the years living in central Texas I’d never been. We’d been spending time walking around the San Marcos river, but this would be our first major outdoor experience, and it almost didn’t even happen.
I didn’t plan the trip well at all. We planned to get up bright and early, but for some reason I thought it was only an hour away. When I was finished packing our snacks in our bag I decided to look at Google maps again and realized it was almost two hours away.
We loaded up the car and made our way and hoped that we would get there in time. I knew the weekends got busy really quickly, but I reassured her that if we didn’t get in we could still check out Pedernales SP.
Not knowing what to expect was starting to trigger the familiar anxiousness. We arrived to the end of what seemed like a mile-long line. She was still excited because you could see the batholith from the road. Enchanted Rock is technically an exposed underground rock formation, but you can see it for miles away.
As we got closer to the gate we saw a park ranger with a radio talking to each car as they pulled up. I saw him pull out a stack of tickets. I knew from reading about the park that those were for people to come back later. You get a reserved spot, but you need to leave and come back after the first crowd has left. We inched along until we were up front. He spoke in the radio one last time, passed our car and pulled the stack of tickets out for the car behind us. I couldn’t believe it. We were the last car allowed in for the day. I knew this moment was going to be something that would affect the rest of the trip here.
The main attraction to Enchanted Rock SNA is of course the Summit Trail. It’s the main trail that takes you to the top. When you look at the trail map it’ll tell you that it’s a measly .67 miles, but don’t let that number fool you. I’ve been to this park multiple times, and when you think you’re getting closer, you walk over a ridge and realize you’re not even close to halfway.
This is an uphill climb most of the way. Are you going to have to navigate switchbacks? Not at all, and there’s even some flatter parts to help save your burning thighs, but this trail is not for the faint of heart.
As my daughter and I hiked up we definitely stopped for some breaks. It was our first major outing, and I wanted to make sure she was enjoying it just as much as I wanted to enjoy it. We paused when she wanted to pause and we kept chugging along. I gently nudged her when she wanted to give up and eventually we made it. When we got to the top the excitement on her face made me tear up. As a father I was just so happy that she pushed herself enough to get up here, and I gave her a big hug to congratulate her.
When I mentioned to a few people that we were going I was told that when you get to the top we needed to lie down on the rock and feel the earth vibrations. With an eyeroll I agreed, but when we got to the top the first thing I did was take off my backpack and find a place to lie down. I don’t know what happened, but ever since that moment I’ve been addicted to being outside. That is the moment I realized I wanted to hike more instead of run, and that is the moment that led to me creating this website to share my stories from the trail.
Including the summit trail there are eight trails total at Enchanted Rock. Though Summit Trail is short, the Loop Trail (4.49 mi.) is technically the longest. This trail loops around the entire park, so pack plenty of water and snacks.
The shortest trail is the Scenic View Trail (.09 mi.) and this is really just a pathway to the Scenic Overlook point of interest. If you aren’t in the mood to hike the summit, this is a great view of the Texas hill country.
If you do decide to do the Summit Trail I recommend coming back down towards west side and hopping on the Echo Canyon Trail (.67 mi.). It’s a bit of a challenge going through this valley in between Enchanted Rock and Little Rock, but the payoff is a group of large boulders where you can take a break and have some snacks. If the crowd is low you may be able to snag a spot inside and be surrounded.
Enchanted Rock State Natural Area has eight points of interest on its map. I recommend:
- ECHO CANYON- The previously mentioned boulders. On the Echo Canyon Trail
- SCENIC OVERLOOK- On Scenic View Trail
- MOSS LAKE- You can get there from either the Echo Canyon Trail or on the Loop Trail.
But mostly take some time to enjoy all of the landscape visuals. There are rock formations, and water, and beautiful trees to look at everywhere.
At Enchanted Rock State Natural Area camping is a little different than some of the other parks I’ve written about. There is no car or RV camping available. All of the campsites are walk-up and primitive sites only. That’s not to say options are limited though. Enchanted Rock SNA has 35 walk-in sites with water and 20 primitive sites.
One thing to note too: you can only use a hammock on the shade shelters. So consider that when you’re planning your gear, but honestly having your place to sleep in the shade isn’t the worst idea. SEE CAMPING MAP
If you’ve made it this far: THANK YOU! I know this was a long read, but this park has sentimental value and it’s a really neat place with tons to offer.
If you’re new to the area or are camping for a few days you are really close to Fredericksburg, TX. This is basically wine capital of Texas, but the town itself has a really cute main street area with tons of shops and a handful of places to eat.
If you’ve been, or if something in the outdoors has changed your perspective on life let me know in the comment section! Please share this post with your friends as well. Thanks for tagging along.