Set against a backdrop of stunning natural beauty, Hamilton Pool is a Texas gem that has been attracting visitors from all over the world. Located just a short drive from Austin, this natural swimming pool is a must-visit destination for any nature lover or outdoor enthusiast. Known for its crystal-clear waters, dramatic limestone cliffs, and vibrant ecosystem, Hamilton Pool is a great place to explore, swim, picnic, hike, and soak in the beauty of Central Texas. We will take a closer look at all the amazing things you can do when you visit this natural wonder.

Hamilton Pool
Image by Shaun Goffe

Concealed amidst the verdant beauty of Texas Hill Country, Hamilton Pool Reserve is a nature lover’s paradise waiting to be explored. As you embark on your journey to this natural wonder, prepare yourself for an adventure that promises to leave you in awe of the raw beauty of Mother Nature.

Hamilton Pool is not just a swimming hole; it’s a sanctuary where time seems to stand still, and worries melt away with each gentle ripple in the crystal-clear waters. Whether you’re seeking a serene escape from the hustle and bustle of city life or craving an adrenaline-filled plunge into the unknown, this natural pool offers something for everyone.

The Approach

As you make your way down the winding trail leading to the pool, anticipation builds with each step. The scent of wildflowers fills the air, and the sound of birdsong serves as nature’s welcome mat, inviting you to leave your cares behind and immerse yourself in the wonders of the wilderness.

Upon arriving at Hamilton Pool, prepare to be greeted by a sight that will take your breath away. A majestic 50-foot waterfall cascades into the jade-green waters below, creating a scene straight out of a postcard. Limestone cliffs draped in lush greenery encircle the pool, enhancing its charm and providing an ideal setting for an unforgettable escapade. Visitors can delight in a leisurely swim in the refreshing, revitalizing waters.

Flora and Fauna

Hamilton Pool is also a sanctuary for flora and fauna. Take a stroll along the nature trail that winds its way around the pool, keeping an eye out for chatterbox orchid, canyon mock-orange, and other native plants. Birdwatchers will delight in the chance to spot the Golden-cheeked Warbler and other avian species that call this pristine environment home.

As the sun begins its descent, casting a golden hue over the tranquil waters of Hamilton Pool, the magic of this natural oasis truly comes to life. As you bask in the natural beauty of Hamilton Pool, take a moment to reflect on the significance of preserving such precious places for future generations to enjoy. The pool and its surrounding area are protected as part of the Balcones Canyonlands Conservation Plan, ensuring that its beauty remains untouched for years to come.

Exploring the Surroundings

For those seeking a deeper understanding of Hamilton Pool, consider embarking on a guided tour of the surrounding wilderness. Knowledgeable guides will lead you on an immersive journey through the diverse ecosystems of Hamilton Pool Preserve, sharing insights into the area’s rich history and ecological significance along the way. From captivating creeks to ancient rock formations, every bend and curve of the trail unveils a new wonder eagerly awaiting exploration.

After a day of adventure and exploration, indulge in a well-deserved feast at one of the nearby picnic areas. Feast on a delicious spread of local delicacies, savoring the flavors of Texas Hill Country as you dine al fresco amidst the beauty of nature. As the sun dips below the horizon, toast to new experiences and cherished memories made in this magical place.

If you’re up for an added adventure, consider a visit to the Westcave Outdoor Discovery Center. Located just a brief five-minute drive from Hamilton Pool, this center boasts a stunning cave embraced by lush foliage, along with a beautiful wet grotto and waterfall.

Hamilton Pool Location

Hamilton Pool Preserve is located about 30 miles west of Austin on FM 3238. From SH 71/U.S. 290 junction southwest of Austin, take SH 71 about 8-1/2miles to FM 3238 (Hamilton Pool Road), turn left and travel about 13 miles to the preserve. The entrance to the 232-acre preserve is on the right.

Hamilton Pool Access

Access to Hamilton Pool is now by reservation only! For information regarding reservations please call (512) 854-PARK (7275) or visit the reservation page.

The preserve is managed as a natural area (preserve) with emphasis on habitat protection and restoration, environmental education for public and private groups, and ongoing research. The park offers limited day-use only, with recreational opportunities such as picnicking, hiking, swimming and nature study.

Here are some numbers to call for more information:

  • County Parks information – (512) 854-7275
  • Hamilton Pool information – (512) 264-2740

About Hamilton Preserve

Hamilton Preserve is a 232 acre park in Travis County, featuring beautiful undulating terrain and cool, clear water. Hamilton preserve’s pool and grotto were formed when the dome of an underground river collapsed due to massive erosion thousands of years ago.

The 45 foot water fall that creates a great swimming hole is the main feature to see. You should also also hike some of the nature trails along the creek. Swimming is allowed only when the water quality meets safe standards. Because of this, water quality is monitored regularly. You can stay up to date with information that is posted at the entrance booth and provided on the park’s telephone recorder message (512 264-2740). Ge there early, because the parking lot is sized for 75 cars. When all spaces are taken, cars are held up at the gate until a space opens. Drinking water or concessions are not available in the preserve; chemical toilets are provided.

Hamilton Pool Preserve Hours of Operation

  • 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily.
  • There is an entrance fee (credit card online, cash only in person).
  • Travis County honors the Federal Golden Age Passport and the Senior Citizen State Pass.

Pets are not allowed, even on leashes. Neither are visitors allowed to leave pets in cars while they hike and visit the water fall. Because of this, leave your pets at home for this excursion.

Extreme care is crucial for the delicate and beautiful ecosystem which forms the Preserve. You should understand the necessary rules for preserving the park’s unique beauty for generations to come.

Helpful Hints

The well-marked hiking trail leads from the parking lot to Hamilton Creek. When you’re at the creek, the trail to the right goes to the pool. The trail to the left follows the creek downstream to the Pedernales River. Bald cypress trees, lush, diverse plant communities, and a variety of wildlife species occupy the grotto and downstream areas. The hike from the parking lot to the pool is about 1/2-mile round-trip. The hike along the creek from the pool to the river is about 3/4 mile, or 1-1/2 miles round-trip from the parking lot.

Hamilton Pool Questions & Answers

Why is Hamilton Pool closed?

Hamilton Pool is not entirely closed. You can enter the water from the beach, but the trail that goes under the overhanging cliff is closed for safety concerns. There have been rocks falling onto the trail from above.

Is Hamilton Pool worth visiting?

Yes, Hamilton Pool is definitely worth visiting! This natural pool is known for its stunning beauty and crystal-clear waters, making it a popular destination for swimming, hiking, and enjoying nature.

Can you swim at Hamilton Pool?

Yes, you can swim at Hamilton Pool. While you can no longer access the bottom of the waterfall by trail, you can still enjoy this beautiful swimming hole from the sandy beach.

Do you have to pay to get into Hamilton Pool?

Yes, there is an entrance fee to visit Hamilton Pool, and reservations are required. The cost is $12 per vehicle (for up to 8 people), or $8 per adult (children are free). You need reservations to enter the park any day of the week, and reservations can be made here.

How deep is Hamilton Pool?

Hamilton Pool is approximately 50 feet deep in its center.

What is the best time to visit Hamilton Pool?

The best time to visit Hamilton Pool is during the spring and fall months when the weather is mild, and the crowds are smaller. Additionally, it’s recommended to arrive early in the morning or late in the afternoon for a less crowded experience.

If you’re looking for swimming holes, then you need to check out The Best Swimming Holes in Texas Page. Make it a life goal to swim in every single one!

Before you leave, make sure you check out some of the other sections of Texas Outside:

Austin & Central Texas — click here to find outdoor activities and fun things to do in Austin or Central Texas
Texas State Parks — find a State park or private campground, read a review, and make a reservation
Texas Outside’s Golfing Texas — locate one of over 500 Texas Golf Courses, browse the golf course ratings and reviews, find a special price, and book a tee time
Lakes & Boating — check out the Texas lakes section with lake reviews, houseboating, lake camping, watercraft rentals, marinas and more
Hiking, Biking, & More Activities — find information about lots of sporting activities in Texas
Texas Hunting — hunting resources, guides, discounts on hunts, and more
Fishing — find a fishing guide and other fishing information
Texas Destinations — fun things to do in Texas Cities plus lodging, restaurants, and entertainment
Texas Music — if you like Texas music, this is where you’ll find some events, resources, and reviews of recent outdoor concerts
Texas Outdoor Weddings — here you will find outdoor venues, wedding vendors, and much more to help you plan a wonderful outdoor wedding
Simon Trask
Author: Simon Trask

Simon loves Texas and the Great Outdoors. From East Texas pines to West Texas mountains, he calls North Texas home but is always ready to float a river in Hill Country or go fishing on the Gulf Coast. Simon loves camping and road trips as well, whether it's cruising Highway 287, 82, 69 or 281, that's the true way to see what Texas is all about!

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