Hamilton Pool Preserve in Dripping Springs, Texas
My husband and I recently took a weekend trip to Dripping Springs, Texas. This sweet town is one of my favorites, just 30 minutes outside of Austin and only a 3 hour drive from Houston. We had a great weekend in the hill country; wildflowers in bloom everywhere, perfect weather, distilleries, breweries, and of course, a quick stop at Hamilton Pool.
Hamilton Pool is an unbelievable natural wonder, tucked away in the Texas hill country. The swimming hole is surrounded by lush vegetation and limestone outcroppings, with a 50ft waterfall forming from Hamilton Creek. Its increasing popularity means the summers can get pretty crowded; the park only allows a certain amount of cars at a time to try to keep it from getting too congested. From May-September you have to make reservations in advance. I prefer to go in the spring. The weather is warm but not too hot, and the crowds are much smaller. Keep in mind that swimming is not always allowed, especially when out of season, so you will need to check ahead (see FAQ below).
The pool opens at 9:00am, and not a second earlier. I mean it. We got there at 8:50 and we were turned away. So we drove around to kill the last 10 minutes, and stumbled upon this creek overflowing into the road. That's the beauty of the hill country, there's always something just around the river bend (yes, I just quoted Pocahontas).
When we got back to the entrance at exactly 9:00am, there were 6 cars already waiting in front of us. These people are pros. We listened to the rules (see below), paid our fee, and drove to the parking area. From there it is a short .25 mile hike to the pool. There are restrooms at the entrance, benches if you need to rest, and walking sticks available. The hike is not that bad. There are some rocky areas, quite a few steps, and some slick spots, so wear comfortable shoes. And bring water. I know it's only .25 miles, but it is hot and humid in Texas. You've got to hike down the trail, walk around the pool, take a dip if it's open for swimming, hike the optional trail to the river, then hike back to your car. Just bring water with you everywhere, especially in the summer.
We hiked down to the pool, then spent about an hour walking around and taking photos. It is truly breathtaking. Just be mindful to watch your step, particularly after it rains. The pool wasn't open for swimming while we were there, but it was awesome just to hang out and take it all in.
After a while we decided to head back to the car. We wanted to explore the other trail to the river, but we were on a bit of a schedule. Next time!
Have you been to the Hamilton Pool Preserve? What did you think? Tell us in the comments below!
The following General Information and FAQs are from the Travis County Parks Website:
"For updated information about Hamilton Pool Preserve please call our public information line at 512-264-2740. The message is updated daily at 9:00 am, or when rain changes our status during the day. Remember the preserve sometimes closes to all visitors due to recent rains and hazardous trail conditions.
Summer Reservations will be required to enter Hamilton Pool from May 1, 2017 through September 30, 2017. You can make your reservation now.
What To Know Before You Come:
- Calling the Public Information Line will let you know the current status of the preserve, whether we're allowing swimming and hiking. Remember the preserve sometimes closes due to recent rain and hazardous trail conditions. The phone number is 512-264-2740. It is updated daily at 9:00 am, or when rain changes our status during the day.
- Be prepared to wait in line for up to 45 minutes. You may also be turned away completely if we are too overcrowded. Have alternative plans available in case you are turned away due to overcrowding.
- We accept cash and local checks. We do NOT accept credit cards.
- Fees are $15 per vehicle, or $5 per vehicle if vehicle has a senior citizen (62 years) or a disabled vet (60%).
- Pets are prohibited. No exceptions, not even if the pet is on a leash or kept in your vehicle. Please do not bring them.
- No Lifeguard is on duty. Swim at your own risk, when swimming is allowed.
- Recreational activities end at 5:30 pm. No entry is allowed after 5:30 pm. All visitors must exit the preserve by 6:00 pm.
- Bring drinking water. Drinking water and concessions are not available.
- The hike to the pool is a quarter of a mile long. The trail is beautiful, but it is also steep and rocky, with uneven steps.
- Glass bottles and the public display of alcohol consumption are prohibited."