Nature

Springtime Comes to Enchanted Rock & It’s Magnificent

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Spring at Enchanted Rock brings bluebonnets, like these in Sandy Creek…and lots of people. Here is how to make your trip to the premier park in the State of Texas the experience you were hoping for. If you can’t come on a weekday, be prepared, and be flexible.

1. Weekends Are Crowded. Be flexible

Enchanted Rock Traffic Cones

Photo: Robert C Deming

With beautiful weather a daily forecast, the park will close to new visitors every Saturday, Sunday, and Holiday. When all the parking spaces in the park are filled, rangers won’t let anyone else in, but if you are in line, waiting, they may give you a pass for guaranteed entrance four hours later. At Enchanted Rock, the early bird gets the worm (or the parking place). Check their Facebook or Twitter accounts for the latest updates. Please note that you will not be allowed to park outside the park to wait for entrance once they have closed; because of concerns about your safety, they will insist that you leave the area.  Be flexible and have a backup plan. Llano has a nice river park and Fredericksburg has Cross Mountain City Park, and you can find plenty to do before your return.

2. Be Prepared

Enchanted Rock Summit Climb

Photo: Robert C Deming

One of the most common reasons people call 911 from the Summit of Enchanted Rock is that they think they’re having a heart attack. Some are, some aren’t, but it is best to try to avoid that $15,000 helicopter ride. If you’re in doubt about your ability to go to the top, just stop, sit down, and enjoy the view. Dress appropriately for the weather, and know that the sun can burn you to a crisp on a summer day. The final climb is steep and shoes which will grip that beautiful pink granite are essential. When it is hot, you are going to need re-hydrating before you get back to your car, so carry something to drink.  Bottled water and sports drinks are sold in vending machines on the back deck of the Headquarters, and proceeds benefit the Friends of Enchanted Rock.

3. The Summit of Enchanted Rock Isn’t the Only Trail in the Park

Enchanted Rock Sandy Creek

Photo: Robert C Deming

The Loop Trail goes around the domes and is all together 5 miles, but you can do a very nice out and back along Sandy Creek.  Start at the cul-de-sac in the front parking lot (to your right when you leave Headquarters) and walk as far as you like, perhaps until the trail crosses the creek. Another nice hike is up the Turkey Pass Trail, and Turkey Peak is a very nice summit.  Sandy Creek is dependent on rain, and will usually be dry in the summer, but regardless, it is a beautiful place, and ripe with great picnic spots.

4. You Can Take Fido, But…

Enchanted Rock Dog Packing

Photo: Robert C Deming

You don’t have to pack your dog, but leashing is a requirement. Pets aren’t allowed on the elevated areas, and if you take them on the Loop Trail, keep them on a leash and pick up and pack out poop. Enchanted Rock is a State Natural Area, and dogs can interfere with the natural environment.  Also, you are not allowed to leave a pet unattended in the car, so if you bring Fido, plan to walk the Loop Trail, bring poop bags (available at trailheads) and bring enough water for you AND Fido. A collapsing bowl for water is a good idea, as sometimes there is no groundwater in the park at all.

5. Wildflowers Are Just Coming Up at The Rock

Enchanted Rock Texas Groundsel

Photo: Robert C Deming

This Texas Groundsel along Sandy Creek in late March is the leading edge of the yellow flowers soon to bloom: Coreopsis, Black-Eyed Susan, and Daisies will soon fill entire fields.

Enchanted Rock SNA is special to us Texans, let’s keep it that way.

Robert C Deming is a writer in Fredericksburg.