Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Hiking Report: Enchanted Rock State Natural Area

It's hard for me to go to Fredericksburg without hiking at Enchanted Rock State Natural Area, located about 16 miles north of Fredericksburg on Ranch Road 965 (North Milam Street in Fredericksburg). We've hiked the loop trail there twice, but the place looks different each time we go there, depending on the time of year, the weather, and other conditions.

According to the Texas Parks and Wildlife website, Enchanted Rock is a "huge, pink granite exfoliation dome, that rises 425 feet above ground, 1825 feet above sea level, and covers 640 acres. It is one of the largest batholiths (underground rock formation uncovered by erosion) in the United States."

Actually, the park consists of 5 "rocks", or hills. They are, from west to east, Little Rock, Enchanted Rock, Turkey Peak, Freshman Mountain, and Buzzard's Roost. All reach an altitude of at least 1500 feet.

If you look at a map of the park, you can trace our path to some degree. We began on the west, following the loop trail. Near Moss Lake, we split from the Loop Trail and hiked into Echo Canyon and spent some time there. From Echo Canyon, we followed the Base Trail around the base of Enchanted Rock. All along the base, we took several little trails up to the base of Enchanted Rock and inspected numerous interesting rock formations. These trails also lead to where rock climbers begin their ascent up the rock.

Farther to the east, we followed Turkey Pass Trail, we took us between Enchanted Rock and Freshman Mountain and Turkey Peak. After passing Frog Pond and crossing Sandy Creek, we then reconnected with the Loop Trail to end our hike.

Granite dome of Little Rock
This picture of Little Rock shows how the "exfoliated" rocks gradually slide down the hill side.

Monarch butterflies seemed to like these flowers

Donna, with Moss Lake and Little Rock in the background

Can you see the trail? Much of the trail is on granite; there are wooden markers and rock cairns to locate the trail at these times.

These rocks are in Echo Canyon. You can actually walk between the larger rocks; you can see the top of the slit behind the smaller rock in front.

Enchanted Rock. Rock climbers from all over like to climb these slopes. Too steep for me!

Another example of "exfoliating" rocks sliding down the side of Enchanted Rock.

And this is what it looks like when those rocks reach bottom. Of course, this can take dozens, hundreds, even thousands of years.

View from the top of Turkey Peak Pass

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