Enchanted Rock, located about twenty miles north of Fredericksburg, is a Texas Hill Country treasure. This massive 500-foot-high dome of pink granite is surrounded by a sea of deep green cedar and piñon pines. Enchanted Rock is the nation’s second largest granite dome, next to Georgia’s Stone Mountain.
The Tonkawa and other Native American tribes believed that the rock talked — a belief rooted in the strange sounds they heard coming from the granite dome at night. Scientists explain that these sounds are created by the expansion and contraction of fissures in the rock as temperatures change. This and other myths and legends gave rise to the name Enchanted Rock.
Enchanted Rock State Natural Area offers seven miles of hiking trails. The four-mile Loop Trail winds around the base of Enchanted Rock and gives hikers opportunities to see lots of wildlife. The Summit Trail is the most popular hike in the park. Even though the trail has a 425-foot elevation gain from the trailhead to the summit, it is a relatively easy hike. The summit offers fantastic views of the surrounding countryside.
Many people prefer to visit Enchanted Rock between late April and early June when the park is awash with the vibrant colors of Texas wildflowers — bluebonnets, Indian paintbrush, yellow coreopsis, and basin bellflowers. But, regardless of what time of the year you visit the park, you won’t be disappointed by the views from the summit.
On the summit you will notice shallow depressions in the granite. One Indian tale tells of the spirit of an Indian chief who sacrificed his daughter and was consequently doomed to walk the summit forever. The indentations in the rock, the legend says, are the chief’s footprints. In reality, these indentations are called vernal pools that collect water and eventually accumulate soil and become a small oasis of plant life on the face of the rock.
Enchanted Rock is not on a direct route to anywhere else, so if you want to visit the park you have to plan to go there. And, once you visit, you’ll understand why Enchanted Rock is one of the most popular places in the Lone Star State. When you visit, definitely plan on hiking the Summit Trail.
Be sure to wear shoes with good soles that will grip the rock, take a water bottle or hydration pack, and don’t forget your camera. And, if you happen to be on the summit in the evening, listen carefully and you just might hear what the Tonkawa Indians heard years ago — the enchanting sounds of the talking rock.