This 4.9-mile loop begins at the parking lot just east of park headquarters and follows Sandy Creek for roughly a mile before crossing it. On the creek’s north side pass between Freshman Mountain and Buzzard’s Roost on an exposed granite and quartz-littered trail that widens as it continues north. The trail circles a large pinkish monolith called Enchanted Rock which covers 640 of the park’s 1,643 acres and is one of the nation’s largest batholiths.
Circling its north side the trail cruises an open grassy area sprinkled with wildflowers. Look for deer grazing and watch for snakes which sometimes bask trailside. Continue climbing past several spur trails—the side trips to Moss Lake and the Overlook are worth the short detours if you have time. After the high point at mile 3.2 the trail becomes rockier and skirts several boulder outcroppings popular with climbers before turning downhill and ending in the campground parking lot. Follow the road east for almost half a mile back to the trailhead.
Note: The park is a popular hiking and camping destination, especially in the fall and spring, and sometimes closes when it fills to capacity. Call the park at (830) 685-3636 before driving out, especially on weekends. Also check conditions on Sandy Creek: this route has a crossing that can be dangerous when water levels are high.
-Mapped by Melissa Gaskill
Click to PRINT AND GO.
GUIDEBOOK AND MAP Hiking Texas, by Laurence Parent ($16, falcon.com); Download map (free) at tpwd.state.tx.us/spdest/findadest/park/enchanted_rock/
FEES/PERMITS $6 per person/day to access the park, payable at park entrance. To camp at one of the three primitive camping areas (20 sites available per area) near the route, it’s $12/group of four/night. Reservations: texasstateparks.org; (512) 389-8900
CONDITIONS This is a popular park for picnickers, hikers, and climbers, and rangers will close the gate if the parking lot fills up (can happen as early as 11 a.m. on spring and autumn Saturdays). Call (800) 792-1112 to check on crowds and the state of creek crossings.
1501 Ford St.
Dayhiking gear list
PICKY’S PANTRY COUNTY LINE
6806 Bee Cave Rd.
TOWN & COUNTRY FOOD STORE
901 Bessemer Ave.
WHOLE FOODS MARKET
525 North Lamar Blvd.
WHOLE EARTH PROVISIONS
1014 North Lamar Blvd.
1624 Barton Springs Rd.
THE BURGER BAR
608 Bessemer Ave.
Dayhiking gear list
Synthetic shorts or pants
Wool hiking socks
Hiking shoes or boots
Sunscreen (SPF 15+)
Midweight synthetic or
fleece long-sleeve top
Wool or fleece hat
jacket and pants
Map, compass, GPS unit
Water container and
Extra food and snacks
Extra pair of socks
TP and trowel
- Distance: 7.9
Location: 30.497393, -98.817955
This route approaches the Loop Trail from the day-use parking area just east of park headquarters. There is a large parking area and picnic tables here, but you’ll have to stop at headquarters if you need a restroom.
Location: 30.500164, -98.816491
Continue straight on the Loop Trail as another trail from the summit and Echo Canyon joins this wider one from the left. This trail descends to Sandy Creek and parallels it ahead.
Location: 30.5015, -98.814318
At mile 0.4 you’ll approach a large covered pavilion and group activity area. Stay straight on the Loop Trail and bypass the Turkey Pass Trail which takes off to the left near the pavilion itself.
Location: 30.507832, -98.808659
About 100 yards from the 3-way junction with the Buzzard’s Roost Primitive Campground spur, you’ll reach a sandy crossing of Sandy Creek. If water levels are high, this crossing can be deep, be sure to check its condition with rangers before setting out.
Location: 30.510704, -98.81085
As you reach the north side of Freshman Mountain you’ll pass the left-hand spur where the Turkey Pass Trail starts. Though you could turn here and shorten your trip or add some difficult climbs, this route stays straight on the Loop Trail.
Location: 30.512315, -98.825669
This northernmost stretch rolls through open grassy areas (look for deer and wildflowers), then crosses a small creek and climbs 0.2 mile to a junction with the trail to Moss Lake Primitive Camping area. There is also a backcountry toilet just off the trail to your right.
Location: 30.510245, -98.826822
As the Loop Trail continues south, you’ll bypass three junctions: stay straight on the main trail at all three junctions and roll gently uphill from this point toward an overlook up ahead.
Location: 30.503875, -98.832375
If you have extra time, consider adding the half-mile out-and-back that heads north from this junction to a rocky observation point above Spring Creek.
Location: 30.496491, -98.83083
Toward the southwestern edge of the loop, the trail skirts several granite outcroppings which are also popular bouldering destinations for local climbers.
Location: 30.495775, -98.827864
Just a few hundred yards before the pavement, the wide trail merges with a maintenance road (not marked on the park’s hiking map). Bear left and continue downhill toward a parking lot.
Location: 30.496448, -98.824709
When you reach the pavement, continue east and follow the park road about half a mile back to the trailhead (it’s just east of park headquarters).
Location: 30.498033, -98.817472
Picnic benches and the wide dirt path near the trailhead.
Location: 30.499466, -98.816668
Trailside plants can crowd the path, especially when things are lush in the spring and early summer.
Location: 30.500289, -98.816249
The trail is well marked and there are large signs at all the junctions and intersections on this route.
Location: 30.503136, -98.811733
Sandy Creek is aptly named. You’ll cruise its sandy banks on the early stretches of this loop.
Location: 30.507083, -98.808879
There are three primitive camping areas in the park. You’ll skirt Buzzard’s Roost before rounding Freshman Mountain.
Location: 30.507841, -98.808546
The Sandy Creek crossing near mile 1 can be wet when water levels are high. Check with rangers about trail conditions.
Location: 30.508645, -98.809319
Looking north from the Loop Trail towards Buzzard’s Roost.
Location: 30.511696, -98.811582
The 640-acre granite dome for which the park is named is 425 feet high.
Location: 30.514043, -98.822773
This ephemeral crossing is sometimes dry and isn’t likely to moisten your shoes or feet.
Location: 30.513211, -98.82479
Echo Canyon Trail
Location: 30.509348, -98.827043
The other area trails are also wide and easy to follow, but with ample signage, you’re not likely to make a wrong turn onto one.
Location: 30.505955, -98.828588
This charred snag was likely struck by lightning.
Location: 30.496489, -98.830669
Large boulder formations alongside the loop trail are popular with climbers, too.