Discover Austin: Hamilton Pool - Episode 55
If you’ve never been to Hamilton Pool, you are missing out on one of Central Texas’ most beautiful sites. It’s a great place to spend a few hours and get away from your normal routine. Learn all about Hamilton Pool and what you should know before you visit on this episode of Discover Austin.
If you'd prefer to read about Hamilton Pool, the transcript can be found below the video.
Greetings! I’m Craig Smyser. Hamilton Pool Preserve is one of the most beautiful places in Central Texas. We’re going to spend some time at this iconic swimmin’ hole on this episode of Discover Austin.
Located about 25 miles from downtown Austin, Hamilton Pool is a gorgeous oasis that most locals know about, but many have never visited. The vibrant green color of the water with the grotto backdrop is simply breathtaking. Hamilton Creek flows over the edge creating a 50-foot waterfall. Even during droughts, there is some water flowing because it’s spring fed. Now, it’s been fairly dry leading up to our visit, so the waterfall is pretty light. But here’s some footage of the waterfall when it was flowing with a bit more force. The pool itself is about 25 feet deep at the deepest part and the water level is fairly constant. There are lots of plants that grow not only around the grotto, but also hang over the top of the rock formation. Hamilton Creek continues out of the pool for about ¾ of a mile before it flows into the Pedernales River (which, by the way, you should know how to pronounce. It looks like Pe Der Nal Es, but that’s wrong. You have to mentally move the R and say Per De Nal es). There is a hiking trail that leads from the pool to the Pedernales River which is just over a mile round trip. If you’d like a guided tour of the area, those are available on Saturday mornings and last about an hour.
Because it is so beautiful, a lot of people want to visit. However, Hamilton Pool isn’t a large place and the environment is sensitive. Therefore, you’ll need a reservation if you want to visit on most days of the year and spaces are quite limited. Reservations can only be made on the Travis County Parks website and there are two time slots available each day – morning and afternoon. Reservations fill up very quickly. In fact, if you want to visit during the peak summer months, you’ll need to make reservations about 3 to 5 months in advance.
The pool is named after Morgan Hamilton who owned this property in the 1860s. He sold it to the Reimer family in the 1880s. They raised cattle and sheep on the land, but they also opened the property to the public as a recreation area. It wasn’t until the 1960s that people really began to visit the pool and by the 1980s, high public traffic, coupled with the grazing livestock, took its toll on the ecosystem. In 1985, Travis County purchased the 232 acres from the Reimer family and began managing the land to restore Hamilton Pool and the uplands. The results speak for themselves. Hamilton Pool is now located within the Balcones Canyonlands Preserve, which is a conservation area covering over 31,000 acres.
There are a few things you should know before you visit. Visitors will hike about ¼ mile from the parking lot to the pool. There is no concession stand or water fountain, so be sure to bring plenty of water. There are no lifeguards on duty but they do have life vests available to use. While you can certainly bring along snacks or a picnic, please note that no glass containers are permitted. Also, pets are not allowed at Hamilton Pool. And while not required, a lot of people find water shoes to be quite helpful.
There’s nothing like a dip in Hamilton Pool on a hot summer day so come on out – the water’s great! I’m Craig Smyser, thanks for joining me for this episode of Discover Austin.