Dogs no longer allowed on Summit Trail at Enchanted Rock starting Tuesday

Some new rules are going into effect at Enchanted Rock in Llano County that may have some dog owners upset.

Officials say nearly 300,000 people visit Enchanted Rock a year. Kristin Arellano is one of those people; she said she comes a few times a year. “It's really beautiful out here, just getting at the top, and you get to see all the nice beautiful scenery, and it's an accomplishment when you get up there. That's for sure,” she said. Arellano was hiking to the top with two of her four-legged friends. “A lot of times when I do go camping, or I do go outdoors, I take my dogs with me, especially here in Texas,” she said.

Officials at Enchanted Rock said it's not unusual for people to bring their pets and they said it’s having a negative impact.  The rock is covered with natural depressions called Vernal Pools, and those fill with water, and create miniature ecosystems.  Kevin Perez and Kimberly Small said that’s one of their favorite parts of the hike. “This rock, what is really cool about is there's water everywhere. You have little ponds, big ponds, which is good for the dogs. You know they get pretty refreshed. They drink water out of it and it keeps us going to,” they said. They as well were accompanied by their two dogs, a German Shepard and a Huskie.

Starting Tuesday March 1st, dogs will not be allowed on the Summit Trail which takes you to the top of the rock. Pets will still be allowed in specific camping areas, day use areas, and the loop trail. “All the dogs love it. People bring their kids and whole family out. For a lot of people, dogs are their family so it's kind of a shame that they can't enjoy it,” said Perez and Small.

The new rule is based on the findings of a two-year research study on the conditions of the Vernal Pools. Officials said too often the pools are looked at as a convenient rest stop or bathrooms for people and pets. They said letting pets cool off or get a drink may not seem like a big deal, but when thousands are doing it, it takes a toll.  They said they want to protect these natural resources to allow future generations to enjoy. Arellano said she’s sad, but understands. “A lot of people when I come out here, they all bring their dog, so you know when we go up there, and when we get up there we like to spend that quality time with our dog, but it's understandable,” she said.

Officials at Enchanted Rock said another big concern for them, is they are also seeing a lot of pets getting injured. They see heat exhaustion, to burnt and cut paws from the granite. So the new rule will protect the environment, and the pets.

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