Dogs in Spurs

Enchanted Rock State Natural Area
Gorp.com
Enchanted Rock State Natural Area consists of 1,643 acres on Big Sandy Creek. The entrance is in Gillespie County, but the bulk of the park is in Llano County. The rock is a huge, pink granite boulder that rises 425 feet above ground and covers 640 acres. Its summit stands 1,825 feet above sea level. It is the second largest batholith (underground rock formation uncovered by erosion) in the United States. Enchanted Rock was designated a National Natural Landmark in 1971 and was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984.

As at all Texas state parks, pooches must remain joined to their owners by leashes no longer than six feet. This sometimes onerous restriction is comforting at Enchanted Rock, for here you will appreciate the security of having your brave guard dog close by. When she pricks up her ears or perhaps droops her tail, she is probably hearing sounds that you cannot hear—sounds people once believed were made by ghosts. Indians believed the weird creaking and groaning noises were made by spirits, but geologists say they result from the rock's heating by day and contracting by night.

Enchanted Rock can be a delight for the hiking dog with tough paws and a big canteen. The rock absorbs and holds heat, so even in cooler months be careful your pooch doesn't overheat. Four miles of hiking trails wind through the granite formations, which are liberally sprinkled with oak, pecan, elm, and mesquite trees. Squirrels, armadillos, rabbits, and lizards dart about. Turkey vultures roost and soar around the rock. White-tailed deer are common, and the park's bird life is varied and abundant.

Summit Trail

Sport and I prefer the Summit Trail, which climbs to the very top of Enchanted Rock. It begins at a parking lot reached by turning right immediately after you pass the park headquarters. You can water your pooch at one of several drinking fountains at the parking lot or at the creek at the beginning of the trail if it is running. The well-marked trail passes through tumbled boulders the size of freight cars before climbing steeply to the top. The view from the top is worth the huffing and puffing it takes to get there. You look down on the entire park and surrounding area. Sit down and rest while you enjoy the view and tell your pooch how a Texas Ranger pursued by Indians saved his scalp by climbing to the top of the rock, lying down, and picking off Indians as their heads appeared. Lie down on your tummy beside your pooch, put your head on your paws, and watch fellow visitors come into view, and you'll see how it worked. Other people will think you're nuts, but then maybe they haven't heard this story.

Camping

Enchanted Rock is the place I chose to take my children on their first camping trip, and after 20 years the magic is still there. Shaded and secluded, the walk-in campsites ($9 per night) cluster along Sandy Creek at the base of Little Rock, itself a huge granite batholith. Facilities include rest rooms with showers nearby, tent pads, picnic tables, and fire rings. Hike-in primitive sites ($7) in three other areas have composting toilets. It's a two-mile walk to any of them. Your pooch would probably prefer the Moss Lake primitive camping area, reached by the Echo Canyon Trail. It is near a pond where a hot dog can take a dip.

Reservations for campsites at all state parks must be made by calling the central reservation number, (512) 389-8900, between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. Reservations are strongly recommended, and a deposit is required in order to guarantee a reservation. Specific sites may not be reserved; they are available on a first-come, first-served basis upon arrival. The park may be closed for public hunts to remove excess deer at times during the fall.

Getting There

From Llano, take Highway 16 south for 14 miles then go west eight miles on F.M. 965. From Fredericksburg, go north 18 miles on F.M. 965. There is an entry fee. The park office is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays and until midnight on summer weekends. The park closes at 10 p.m. except to overnight guests. (915) 247-3903.


Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 30 Mar 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

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