When I think of Texas, the wild wild west comes to mind. Are you rolling your eyes? I’m sure that is from old movies and my upbringing on the east coast. After finding myself living in Austin, I decided to do a bit of exploring outside of the busy metropolitan area. What I discovered was nothing close to what I had imagined when I thought of Texas. Set just 35 miles outside of downtown Austin sits the Hamilton Pool Preserve.
It is a pool of spring water surrounded by a collapsed grotto and canyon that formed due to water erosion over thousands of years. Lush plant life and heavily wooded areas surround the pool that is fed by a waterfall that spills over from Hamilton Creek. The area was designated a preserve in 1990 and is home to many endangered species of plants and birds.
I have to say, the Hamilton Pool Preserve is one of the most beautiful places I have seen in the USA! Holy Moly it is gorgeous!
From the parking lot, the right fork of the trail is just .25 miles and leads to the pool and 50 foot waterfall. Be aware, the trails are not very easy to navigate. There are signs posted stating that these trails are for foot traffic only. There are no bicycles, strollers or wheelchairs allowed.
You can swim in the pool (at your own risk) and on a hot Texas day the water will still be a cool 65-68 degrees and oh so refreshing! There is a warning that the water can be deep and there are drop offs in the water that may be unexpected. Just keep an eye on your kiddos!
If you and your family want to get a bit of a workout there is a 0.7 mile trail (the left fork) along the Pedernales river that leads to another swimming spot where the river opens up. This trail is not for smaller children as it is a bit treacherous at times. I walked it at a quite brisk pace and made it to the end of the trail in just under 30 minutes. You will be walking over tree stumps and on very uneven ground. I know I said it above, but there is absolutely no way any stroller or wheelchair can make it down the path. It is 100% walking traffic only, for good reason.
Tips for Visiting Hamilton Pool Preserve
When planning your trip to this must see destination there are few tips I will share with you to assure that you and your families have a wonderful and hiccup free day. The park is open 365 days a year (weather permitting) from 9am-6pm. They do have a maximum amount of people allowed in at a time so on the weekends and holidays they are likely to go on a wait of up to 2 hours. I arrived at 10 in the morning and waited for about 45 minutes in my car. I would call ahead or check online to make sure the trails and pools are open. The pools are not treated chemically so the water is tested and there may be times when swimming is not allowed. After very heavy rainfall, the trails may be closed for the safety of guests.
The cost is $10 per vehicle (not person) and $3 per pedestrian or bicycle. They only accept cash and in-state checks. There are no pets or alcohol allowed in the park. They do not have drinking water, refreshments or food available for purchase. You can bring your own as long you take all your trash with you and DO NOT bring any glass. There are basic restrooms in the parking lot which I would suggest using prior to walking down to the pool. Make sure you wear comfortable walking shoes and bring water shoes with if you plan to swim or walk under the waterfall. The rocks get very slippery when wet.
Please be aware that there is very little cell service in this park. I have AT&T and except in the parking lot and maybe 1 bar on the beach, I had absolutely no service while I was there. The best thing to do if you plan on splitting up is wear waterproof watches and agree on a place and time to meet. Or use walkie talkies. That is just plain fun. Just leave the cell phones in the car (unless of course it doubles as your camera) and enjoy the magnificent surroundings of Hamilton Pool Preserve.
All in all I have to give this spot 2 thumbs up and say its a great place to spend the day with your family if you enjoy nature and the outdoors. As there is no snack bar or gift shop it won’t break the bank at just $10 for the whole family! So, when you are wondering what to do in or around Austin, make sure Hamilton Pool Preserve is on your list!
As you may have guessed, the Hamilton Pool Preserve is totally Vandy! Yeah, That’s Vandy baby!
* I want to welcome Kate to That’s Vandy! Not only is she exploring one of my favorite places, she is my baby sister. This is her first blog post! Stay tuned for more from Kate on the locations and activities around Austin as well as fashion roundups and many ways to rock your nails.*