Sabinal River


Didn’t start thinking about your weekend plans until Friday? You might as well forget about floating the Frio in Garner State Park or exploring Enchanted Rock. This weekly series assists in finding great alternatives to Texas’ popular summer hangouts, from watering holes to museums, for those who prefer (whether intentionally or by accident) to plan their trips spontaneously.

The Spot: Enchanted Rock

Hiking enthusiasts love scaling Enchanted Rock in Fredericksburg for its stark landscape and scenic views. The ridge of pink granite, which has been the subject of Native American legend for centuries, is largely unshaded, making for a hot hike in the summertime. Despite that, the park frequently reaches capacity year-round, and closes its gates early. Luckily the southwestern Hill Country holds a cool, quiet option with similarly spectacular views.

The Alternative: Lost Maples State Natural Area

Lost Maples is most often touted as a destination for viewing fall foliage, but the shade from the trees make the park a cooler and more comfortable hiking destination in the summer. The 3-mile East Trail makes for a challenging hike, but ends in a rewarding overlook from a 2,200-foot cliff. Day-use admission is $6 and gives visitors access to more than 10 miles of hiking trails as well as the Sabinal River, which unlike the water at Enchanted Rock, is available for fishing, swimming, and kayaking. Visitors can camp overnight to stargaze—either solo or at a park-sponsored star party—and rise with the early birds to see the park’s wildlife, like the endangered golden-cheeked warbler.

The June 2024 cover of Texas Highways: Treasures from the Coast

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