Discover some of the breathtaking places to hike, swim, relax, or simply beat the hot summer heat at Dripping Springs, TX. Known as the Gateway to the Hill Country and the Wedding Capital of Texas, Dripping Springs is home to one of the stunning natural preserves – the historical Dripping Springs Swimming Hole, Hamilton Pool Preserve.
About the Hamilton Pool Preserve
The Hamilton Pool Reserve is located at 24300 Hamilton Pool Rd, Dripping Springs, TX 78620, and was designated a preserve by the Travis County Commissioner’s Court in 1990. It is nestled ¾ mile upstream from its confluence with the Pedernales River. The Hamilton Pool Preserve is part of the Balcones Canyonlands Preserve (BCP). BCP encompasses more than 31,000 acres of endangered species habitat owned by Travis County, the City of Austin, the Nature Conservancy, the Lower Colorado River Authority, Travis Audubon Society, and private landowners.
A picturesque swimming hole, The Hamilton Pool Preserve is a public nature preserve and a haven for visitors looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the big city to admire nature's gift. The preserve is known for its rock formation, natural limestone pool of water, and a 50-foot waterfall that plunges into the head of a steep box canyon. The water never completely dries up in the pool but it gets to a trickle during dry seasons, however, the pool’s water level remains constant even during drought periods.
History of the Hamilton Pool Preserve
The Hamilton Pool is a unique nature preserve surrounded by collapsed grotto and canyon that was formed by thousands of years of water erosion. A wide array of plant communities, different wildlife species, and natural shelter were the area’s first inhabitants. The cultural remains date back to over 8,000 years. Tonkawa and Lipan Apaches lived in the area prior to the 1800s. Morgan C. Hamilton owned the property during the mid-1860s and his brother, Andrew Jake Hamilton visited the beautiful grotto while he was governor.
An immigrant family from Germany bought the property to raise sheep and cattle during the 1880s. Legend says that their eight-year-old son discovered the collapsed grotto. The Reimers soon realized the value of the preserve and opened it as a recreational area for public use. From the 1960s to the 1980s, the popularity of the pool soared. The impact of the visitors resulted in changes to the native vegetation affecting the animals that were raised in the area.
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department cited Hamilton Pool as the most significant natural area in rural Travis County and in 1985, Travis County purchased 232 acres from the Reimers family and implemented an aggressive land management plan to restore the Hamilton Pool Preserve. As of today, the Hamilton Pool Preserve’s land management continued to practice prescribed burns, prairie restoration, surveys for the endangered species, biological inventories, and water quality monitoring.
Things To Do in the Hamilton Pool Preserve
This historical Dripping Springs swimming hole has plenty of activities available for the public to enjoy. Before you go, it’s highly recommended to check the Travis County Parks website for the most updated information or call the Public Information Line for the most updated status of the preserve. There are occasions when the preserve changes its status during heavy rainfall while on some occasions, the preserve is closed to all visitors.
The Hamilton Pool is a popular swimming destination and swimming hole in Dripping Springs, TX. However, no swimming is allowed this summer of 2022 or for the foreseeable future due to falling rocks at many locations and around the pool.
When it used to be open for swimming, the status is determined by bacteria level and recent rainfall in the area. Swimming was once allowed but not guaranteed. The temperature levels of the pool can also drop below 50 degrees Fahrenheit during spring and winter. While life vests are provided by the pool, there are no lifeguards on duty.
There is a hiking trail to the pool that is about a quarter-mile long. The trail is steep, narrow, and rugged with uneven steps hence sturdy hiking shoes are highly recommended. It takes 30 minutes of hiking from the parking lot to the pool and back. A section of the trail that goes underneath the overhanging cliff at the pool is closed for safety reasons, due to the falling rocks from the cliffs. Visitors can access the beach, but cannot walk all the way around the pool below the waterfall.
Go on an hour guided hike tour through the Hamilton Pool Preserve. The tour begins in a dry upland and descends 80 feet into the canyon that features a diversity of plants and animals. Along the guided hike, you will get to learn about the history of the Hamilton Pool Preserve and how its unique geological features were formed. Saturday morning guided hikes at the preserve are suspended until further notice.
If you’re thinking, can you bring food to the Hamilton Pool? There are picnic tables for dining available at the preserve, but bring your food and some drinking water. There are no drinking water concessions available in the area.
Reservation Times in Hamilton Pool Preserve
Reservations are required every day in order to enter the area. The morning reservation period for the Hamilton Pool Preserve is from 9:00 am to 12:30 pm while the afternoon reservation period is from 2:00 pm to 5:30 pm. Visitors cannot remain in the preserve after the reservation period ends.
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How Much Does it Cost To Visit the Hamilton Pool Preserve?
You have to first make a reservation before coming to the preserve. You will be paying $12 per vehicle with a maximum of 8 people, with a credit card. You will also need to pay an additional per person entrance feed when you arrive.
Here is the cost per person for the preserve's entrance fee where they only accept cash:
$8 per adult (13 to 61 years of age)
$3 per senior (62 years of age and older)
$0 per child (12 years of age and younger)
Can You Bring Pets to the Hamilton Pool?
Unfortunately, you can’t bring your friend Fido to the preserve. Pets are prohibited, with no exceptions. Service animals are allowed in these parks but must be recognized as service animals under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
How Long is the Hike to the Hamilton Pool?
The hike to the Hamilton Pool is 1/4 mile or 0.4 km long. It takes 30 minutes from the parking lot to the pool to reach the Hamilton Pool
Is the Hamilton Pool Preserve Open Year-Round?
There are areas in the preserve that are closed to the public due to safety reasons where rocks have been falling from the cliffs above the trail. Visit the official website of the Travis County Parks for updated information about the status of the Hamilton Pool Preserve.
Things To Do Near the Hamilton Pool Preserve
While some areas of the preserve are closed to the public, there are natural parks, swimming holes, and other things to do that has close proximity to the Hamilton Pool Preserve.
In less than a mile, you can reach Milton Reimers Ranch Park, a tranquil and beautiful park located in Dripping Springs. People visit the area to bike, hike, rock climb, and fish. It is in an open space area with almost three miles of continuous frontage along the Pedernales River. The park is open every day from 7:00 am to civil twilight. If you’re looking for a place to camp, hike, mountain bike, picnic, bird watch, and ride horses, the Pedernales Falls States Park is less than an hour away from the Hamilton Pool Preserve. Peaceful state park to relax, recharge and connect with nature.
Nine miles away from the preserve and another swimming hole is waiting for you. Krause Springs is a well-known camping and swimming site located in Spicewood, Texas. The property is 115 acres and is listed on the National Registry of Historical Sites with 32 springs on the property and several that feed the manmade pool.
There are wineries and breweries near the Hamilton Pool Preserve where you can taste local and imported wine and beer to your heart’s content. The top-rated and reviewed Bell Springs Winery located in Dripping Springs welcomes you to experience their small-production wines and chef-prepared dishes. Whether you’re going for wine tasting, pairing, or grabbing some lunch from their food truck, it’ll be a visit your won’t forget.
Hawk Shadow Winery in Dripping Springs offers sweeping views of Texas Hill County and a relaxing escape from the working world where you can taste the authentic handcrafted Texas wine. For some good handcrafted beer, the Family Business Beer Company is located just a few minutes away from the pool preserve. The family-owned brewery sits on 15 acres of land in Dripping Springs. They also serve some of the world’s greatest pizza from their very own food truck.
Dripping Springs is a great place to visit and live because of the countless natural amenities, parks, and recreational areas you can visit. There are plenty of fascinating things to see and discover, you'll never run out of things to do. If you are thinking of moving to Dripping Springs, TX, speak to a real estate consultant! Get more information and search for homes in Dripping Springs here!
Posted by Ryan Rodenbeck on