Follow Matador Sports’ Adam Roy on a tour through one of Texas’ premier climbing spots.

RISING UP FROM the desert southwest of Austin, Enchanted Rock is the kind of mountain that captures the imagination. Both Native American legend and Texan folklore held the pink granite monolith to be a place of enchantment, home to ghosts and legendary Spanish treasures.

Most visitors to Enchanted Rock today are looking for something a little more corporeal. The rock draws outdoors enthusiasts of all stripes, hikers, cavers, and face climbers, as well as campers. What most of them find is a climb full of challenges and vistas that blow the Texas desert wide open.

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1. On clear days, the path to Enchanted Rock's summit is already crowded by 10:30 AM. Some hikers bring children, while others come to walk dogs.

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2. Hikers in search of a challenge can pick their ways up the trickier routes flanking the main path.

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3. A cactus grows out from the base of a boulder. While Enchanted Rock may look smooth from a distance, the peak's cracks and crevices sprout a number of different grasses and succulents.

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4. In a phenomenon known as 'exfoliation', outer layers of granite gradually break up and slough off Enchanted Rock's surface in large slabs

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5. With no tree cover to provide climbers with shade or help them judge distance, the final ascent up the rock dome can seem to go on for hours.

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6. The gradual accumulation of soil and rainwater has allowed miniature ecosystems to form in divots on the top of the rock. Hardy though they might look, these patches of grass and cactus are actually extremely fragile and prone to damage by hikers.

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7. Illuminated by the sunset, the far side of Enchanted Rock has much steeper faces, suitable for technical climbers. Campers can reserve primitive sites on the other side of the rock to pitch their tents as well.