Enchanted Rock State Natural Area is a must-do stop for everyone in Texas and one that has been on our bucket list for quite some time. The park contains the largest pink granite monadnock in the United States, which rises 425 feet above the surrounding area with an altitude of 1,825 feet.
The State Natural Area is part of the Texas State Park system and sits right outside of Fredericksburg, TX, which is less than 2 hours from San Antonio and Austin and around 4 hours from Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston. This means if you are a fan of road trips, there is no reason you cannot make this a road trip from most major cities in the state.
Reservations at Enchanted Rock
During the Covid-19 Pandemic, most State Parks across Texas instituted a day pass requirement which we have to say we loved since it just created a more organized and structured entry into the park.
While reservations are not strictly required to enter the park, we still highly suggest everyone get a day pass before visiting to reserve their spot. While the park does not require a reservation, the rangers will close entry once it reaches a specific capacity limit. Since Enchanted Rock is quite a popular park, it will almost certainly hit the capacity limit every weekend. Getting a reservation through the online portal guarantees that you can get into the park without issues.
It is effortless to reserve a day pass for Texas State Parks, and all the instructions are right on the main web page for each park. Once you create an account with Reserve America, you can search for available days and times, which then asks you to input how many people will be coming along with your car information and process payment.
Even with such a popular park, it was relatively easy to get an open spot, but one thing to remember is that the spots open up only one month in advance. The system lets you select the date you want to visit and then list entry times in two-hour blocks. The cost of visiting is not different with the online reservation system and still only costs $8 a person.
Getting to Enchanted Rock
The drive from Dallas-Fort Worth to Enchanted Rock is a rather dull drive with many open highways ahead of you, and the drive would be similar to most other cities. One recommendation would be to stay on the main highway if you are coming from DFW to get better bathroom breaks and food breaks.
If this is your first time taking a road trip in Texas, then Buc-ee’s is seriously one of the best rest stops you will ever find and sort of a Texas rite of passage.
If you are doing backroads, you might save a few minutes, but you also risk not seeing many clean bathroom breaks and very few food options. This is all personal preference, but we like giving a clear expectation for either route you choose.
Enchanted Rock State Natural Area
After entering the park, the actual parking lots are somewhat small, but due to limiting traffic flow with the reservations and capacity limits, we had no issue finding a spot close to the Summit Trail entrance. We would recommend parking on this side of the park unless you were camping or exploring a specific trail on the other side. There should be clear signage on which way is which and where the Summit Trailhead is located at.
The parking near the Summit Trail also has access to the Loop Trail and quite a few other options we highly recommend. On top of being near the trail entrances, you also have access to picnic tables, water fountains, restrooms, and even a little food truck that is open most weekends.
Summit Trail – The Must Do Hike
The Enchanted Rock Summit Trail
The Summit Trail at Enchanted Rock is the go-to trail for almost anyone visiting the park. The trail leads you to the top of the main attraction in the park, the pink granite mountain in the middle of Texas hill country.
According to the state park website, hiking the Summit Trail is rated as “challenging,” but we would rate it “moderate” at most. The hike is a simple up and down 0.8 miles each way with no specific marked path. When you start the trail, you will go through a small entry that has information about the park and some warnings about the weather and dangers of the trail.
Depending on what time of year you venture to the park, you will want to make sure to bring water since Texas is notorious for getting dangerously hot fast.
Once you get past the entrance of the Summit Trail, you rather quickly get into the steep part of the hike, which surprise is the entire hike.
While short at less than a mile, the hike up the Summit Trail is pretty much straight up and without any steps or switchbacks, you are essentially going up a steep hill for over half a mile.
This was probably the first hike that we have done that did not include any actual trail that leads you to a definite end. The path is not marked, but it is also impossible to get lost on the way to the summit. Pictures and video do not give it justice at just how grand the massive granite rock is and the fact that you end up at the summit any way you go up.
The entire hike up took us about 30 minutes, with some stops to admire the views on the way up. It truly is breathtaking the whole hike up the mountain since it is not every day in Texas you get such high views of the countryside.
Once you arrive at the top, the views are AMAZING 360 panorama of the hill country, a must-see for everyone. We luckily came into the park late in the day, around 2 pm, and ran into almost no crowds. This made the summit more enjoyable, we honestly would hate to be here on a crowded day since we can imagine the views could easily be spoiled.
After spending about 30 minutes at the summit, we started our descent which hurt more than the hike up. The route down is just as steep as the hike up, and unless you are zig-zagging on the way down, your toes are about to slam into the toe-box of your shoe and hurt!
We didn’t come back to the trailhead on the way back down but decided to link up to other trails to explore more of the park!
We are excited to cover the other trails at Enchanted Rock, and we also created a mix of trails that combined the Summit Trail, Loop Trail, and a few bouldering trails to get you the best hiking while limiting hiking time to just over two hours. We call it the Epic Loop Trail and highly encourage anyone looking for something more challenging and scenic to check it out!
We thoroughly enjoyed our time at Enchanted Rock and cannot recommend it enough to anyone living in Texas or anyone visiting Austin or Fredericksburg wine country.
Have you been to Enchanted Rock? How did you like it? Any tips for future visits?