I first came to Fredericksburg
many years ago a friend told me he was going out to climb Enchanted
Rock and invited me to go along. Well, climbing rocks is not my
thing (climbing into a lawn chair on the river bank with a 6-pack
and a fishing rod is more my speed), but it being a Saturday, and
having already ironed my underwear and rearranged my sock drawer,
I tagged along.
I've made other trips to Enchanted Rock since then, and each time
I saw something wonderful and learned something new.
I learned an important lesson that very first day. The cowboy boots
were a bad idea.
Rock as viewed from the trail leading to the summit. People climbing
on the summit (visible as dots) give an idea of the scale of the granite
30° 30' 20" N, 98° 49' 05" W
Claygate, April 14, 2006
has been the object of curiosity and wonder for centuries. Experts
who know about such things say the granite dome first formed somewhere
between 4.5 million and 540 million years ago, give or take a few
It formed as molten magma from deep in the earth pushed its way
upward but for some reason stopped rising somewhere below the surface.
After the magma cooled and hardened, centuries of exfoliation and
erosion exposed the dome.
Enchanted Rock rises about 500 ft. above Sandy Creek, and its dome
covers about a square mile. It is the second largest granite mountain
in the United States next to Stone Mountain in Georgia.
Some history books say Capt. Henry S. Brown discovered Enchanted
Rock in 1829, but the truth is Native Americans beat Capt. Brown
there by a few centuries.
Enchanted Rock was a special place for Native Americans. The enormous
granite dome made groaning sounds as it expanded in the heat of
the day and contracted when the temperature cooled in the evening.
Native Americans believed spirits lived there. To them it was a
In the 1840s Samuel Maverick, a signer of the Texas Declaration
of Independence, hired surveyor James P. Hudson and 2 chainmen to
survey 8½ labors of land that included Enchanted Rock. The State
of Texas issued Maverick a patent for the land in September 1851.
Maverick didn't give a hoot about spirits. He was after gold and
silver but didn't find much. Those precious metals do exist in that
part of the Hill
Country but not in paying quantities.
For years Enchanted Rock stood there as it always had, moaning and
groaning and keeping watch over the rough country in northeast Gillespie
the late 19th century Rev. Dan Moore held an annual church service
on top of Enchanted Rock. Worshippers rode their horses or walked
to the summit to hear the sermon based on Matthew 16:18 "Upon this
rock I will build my church." What a glorious occasion that must
The Moss family bought the property in 1886. Then sometime in the
early 20th century the public discovered Enchanted Rock.
Beginning in 1927 Tate Moss opened Enchanted Rock to campers. The
Moss family operated the place as a private park until the Texas
Parks and Wildlife Department bought it 1978.
The park closed for 18 months in the early 80s while workers built
campsites and marked trails, but the hikers and climbers kept coming.
Authorities wrote 300 citations for trespassing while the park was
I remember a rumor going around that Enchanted Rock would become
a second Mount Rushmore with the faces of 3 prominent Texans carved
into it. I'm glad that didn't happen, but if it had I would have
voted for Farrah Fawcett, Willie Nelson and Nolan Ryan.
Climbing Enchanted Rock is not all that difficult for a climber
with healthy legs and the proper footwear. The climb starts out
easy but gets a little harder as you go up. The domed shape of the
mountain is deceiving. At several points along the climb you think
you are near the summit only to get there and find you have a lot
farther to go.
But once you reach the top, you are rewarded with a spectacular
view of the Hill
Country. At that moment the climb is worth the effort, even
for a guy like me whose favorite climb is into a Laz-Z-Boy.
"Grand Granite: Climbers flock to Texas' Enchanted Rock park," Colorado
Springs Gazette, October 6, 1984.
"Enchanted Rock: A Landmark on the Trail," Fredericksburg Standard,
August 1, 1962.
The Handbook of Texas, Texas State Historical Association.