Today we visited one of nature’s genuine masterpieces: Hamilton Pool Preserve at 24300 Hamilton Pool Road (Dripping Springs, TX, 78620) in western Travis County. The 232-acre preserve features a remarkable pool created by a collapsed grotto, beautiful scenery along Hamilton Creek, and access to the Pedernales River.
Every day around 9 a.m. the Hamilton Pool Preserve web site is updated regarding the pool’s water quality and whether swimming will be allowed. The natural pool and creek are not chemically treated and bacteria counts fluctuate. It’s important to find out this information before you go if you think your kids will absolutely have their hearts set on swimming in Hamilton Pool. We arrived around 9:15 a.m. and were a little disappointed to learn we wouldn’t be able to swim. Nevertheless, we decided to make the most of the hiking opportunity!
The boys were excited to begin exploring the trail.
Because we knew we could not swim in Hamilton Pool, we decided to follow the 0.6 mile trail to the Pedernales River.
The trail had quite a bit of shade.
There were some really interesting features along the trail!
The River Trail was very scenic.
Hamilton Pool Preserve is kept in its natural state as much as possible. Here you see my 7-year-old son looking down toward the creek bed. There is not a guard rail or fence so you must watch your children closely.
The boys were thrilled to find this daddy long-legs nest hidden in a rocky area.
The trail was very interesting to follow and kept us on our toes. It felt a bit longer than 0.6 miles (one way). I tracked the distance on my pedometer for the return trip and that length was accurate. If you have children who are not used to hiking or who are age 5 or younger, you might want to think twice about exploring the River Trail.
Finally, we could tell we were close to the Pedernales River!
It was a beautiful sight!
I think my sons can turn anything into a “beach.” They enjoyed playing along the river bank for about an hour, where there was a cool breeze.
We began the return trip away from the river and back toward the crown jewel: Hamilton Pool itself. The trail kept us alert and focused, as you can see by these tree roots…..
It was a beautiful day to be outside!
If you look closely through this “peep hole” of rocks, you can see Hamilton Creek flowing.
We made it back to our starting point for the River Trail and took the Pool Trail, which is about 1/4 mile long.
The trail was very engaging, with a little bridge….
…..and these rocks to walk across.
When they saw the pool, all the kids could say was “Wow!”
There is a trail that winds around behind the curve of the rock.
There are some tight spots!
The view was worth it.
What an amazing place!
Once you go around the pool, you will go up these steep stairs. It’s a little slippery.
We took a break to appreciate the view.
My 10-year-old son was fascinated by these fish nests (the lighter-colored circular areas). He specifically asked that we tell you about them so that if you go to Hamilton Pool you know to try to not step on the baby perch eggs.
We had a wonderful time but we were pretty worn out. Remember to save some energy for the walk back up to the parking lot!
Austin Active Kids Opinion: The beautiful pool and its natural surroundings will take your breath away!
Outing Time: Just under 3 hours.
Outing Distance: About 2 miles covered total on the River Trail and the Pool Trail.
Reminders: Hamilton Pool Preserve is open daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. (weather permitting). Check the web site after 9 a.m. or call (512) 264-2740 to see if swimming will be allowed for the day. Please note that there are no lifeguards on duty.
Plan to arrive as early as possible in the day to beat the crowds. The parking lot can only accommodate 75 vehicles and once it’s full, cars are allowed in only on a “one out, one in” basis. Admission cost is $10 per vehicle (no credit cards or debit cards).
There is no concession stand or store at Hamilton Pool Preserve. While there are restrooms, there is not running water, i.e. water fountains or sinks. Bring a lot of drinking water, any snacks you will need, and hand sanitizer or wet wipes.
Wear sturdy, safe shoes for the trail. Strollers and bikes are not allowed.
The Texas Department of Transportation will be working on some road improvements to Hamilton Pool Road from June 24 – July 19, 2013. This is not a major construction project and should not cause significant delays.
While this is known as a great swimming hole and tends to be an activity people think about in the summer time, it’s also an appealing place to visit year-round due its beauty and the variety of wildlife.