Enchanted Rock is an outdoor attraction in central Texas with a state park built around it. Even though it is quite isolated out in the hill country, it is a very busy park and you should probably get reservations online a few days in advance if you want to go experience it as they limit the number of people allowed in at any given time. Though it is called a ‘rock’, it is really a massive granite dome protruding from the landscape. You can hike up a steadily climbing trail to the top and see for miles around. The image below is taken from the summit trailhead and you can see a stream of people off into the distance up on the rock.
Most people can make the climb, though it does give your calves a solid workout, and on a nice Saturday or Sunday Enchanted Rock will look like a giant anthill crawling with people. While the summit is the main attraction of the park and where most people go, there are also a lot of hiking trails that go around the dome and through ravines. My main objective was to hike back to Moss Lake and see about some reflection photos near sunset. This involved an up and down hike through a boulder strewn ravine between Enchanted Rock and the adjacent Little Rock (see Echo Trail in red on the park map below).
I was there rather early and all was going well. I was having a nice hike around in the back of the park, farthest from the parking area when I hopped over a small ravine. Landing on the other side, I felt my right calf muscle sprain and seconds later the sharp pain confirmed the diagnosis. This occurred near the trail just north of the Moss Lake Primitive Camping Area on the above map. My car is parked just south of the circled 1 and did I mention it is an up-and-down hike through a boulder strewn ravine back to the car? So, the rest of my afternoon was spend hobbling around with shooting pain in my right leg. Next time I will stretch the leg muscles good before hiking this area.
I was there anyway and so I hobbled to Moss Lake (number 6 on the map) to hopefully find water and a refection of Enchanted Rock. There was indeed water and it was quite calm, though there was a nearly complete cover of high clouds as you can see in the image above. The forecast called for clearing skies as the day approached sunset, so I was resolved to stick around and wait out some light.
This vantage point faces east from Moss Lake with Enchanted Rock in the distance and would be a fantastic place for sunrise. Perhaps I will camp in one of the nearby primitive campgrounds some time and give it a try; after I can walk again of course.
Below is a 30 second exposure taken using an ND filter to smooth out the lake to get a better reflection. I cropped it as a panorama.
I stumbled out to a grassy peninsula on the lake that gave me a slightly better vantage point of the rock and waited out the sun. There was some clearing on the western horizon (opposite the picture below) and about 10 minutes before sunset, the light came through and shined upon Enchanted Rock.
If I could have gotten sunlight about 15 minutes earlier, I feel like this would have been a much more impressive photo, but I did get some warm light on the top half of the dome. If you really look you can see the trees and people up there looking at the sunset. I found I liked the panoramic crop more on these photos as it makes the rock more prominent.
I had hope for the high clouds catching light after sunset as the sun had broken through on the western horizon. I stood around and watched them slowly light up with orange. This looked nice but the real cloud show was behind me above an uninteresting countryside. Still, I did get some nice light in the clouds above the lake and rock. Fortunately there was very little wind and the lake was very smooth, allowing me to get nice reflections even without a filter.
The above image is the what I spent most of my editing time on. I really worked on the orange and blue colors in the sky as well as the exposure and texture of the landscape. Lightroom has really upped its mask game recently which makes it a lot easier to selectively edit sections of the photo. The flat RAW image that I started with is below for reference. I think I made it look more like what I saw.
As I said, the real cloud show was behind me. I packed up from this location and stumbled around the lake and took a parting shot before making my way back to the car. My earlier viewpoint was near the larger tree on the right.
Thanks for reading and tell me what you think in the comments below.