This is a fun and short hike that passes through a little valley with an interesting geologic history that created the special beauty. This includes the Balanced Rock that is the destination for this hike.
Balanced Rock looks as if a giant child stacked a bunch of building-block shaped rocks and left them in the weather for eons. Rather, it was the upwelling of a molten magma column that smashed into the top sedimentary rock. After it cooled, erosion of the soft sedimentary rock exposed the hard underlying granite. Erosion and water intrusion into the blockish rocks finished the process to create the jumbles rocks you see today.
This is an easy 2-mile in-and-out hike. The first three-quarters of a mile is on the wide, flat trail to the head of the valley. Then the trail steepens for about a quarter of a mile while it climbs the steep headwall of the valley and swings to the southwest along a ridge to reach Balanced Rock. Some high stepping and short two-handed scrambling is required, but with care there is no real serious fall danger. The trail is suitable for most people. The trail is easy to follow through the bottom of the valley. During the climb there are metal signs to keep you from losing the trail. During the hot months, this hike will be like an oven, so hike early in the morning. During more pleasant weather, near sunset, the changing shades of orange are fantastic. Do be mindful of the time to avoid down climbing in the dark. The views back down the valley are great. Once at Balanced Rock, the view to the east through the rock portal toward Nugent Mountain is equally great, especially at sunset.
The trailhead is about 6.5 miles down the dirt Grapevine Spring Road. The dirt road is suitable for most cars in good weather if care is taken to dodge potholes and cross the low water river crossings. Check current road conditions at the Panther Junction Ranger Stations because bad weather can quickly change the road. The trailhead parking (29.410516, -103.207625) has room for about 10 cars.