Hamilton Pool: An otherworldly way to cool off

With Austin in the throes of its triple-digit summer season and plenty of people wanting to cool off, a two-hour wait to dip into the refreshing waters of Hamilton Pool is not the exception, it’s the rule.

“The wait is pretty much unavoidable,” said veteran Travis County Parks supervisor Michael Brewster. “We get the line as soon as we open the gates and we don’t lose that line until about 30 minutes before we close.”

People actually appear … satisfied … as they pull off Hamilton Pool Road onto the preserve only to come to an abrupt halt where they’ll sit in a seemingly never-ending string of idling cars to wait for their chance to park and hike the scenic, rocky quarter of a mile to the historic swimming hole.

'A must-see'

First-time pool visitor Joanna Campbell of San Antonio left her car in line to visit the ladies’ room. “A friend of ours came to the pool and posted pics on Facebook,” she said. “I had to come. It’s a must-see.”

Hamilton Pool is stuff of local legend. A naturally made pool on land once owned by the brother of Andrew Jackson Hamilton, Texas’ 10th governor, it’s the result of thousands of years of water erosion that has over time helped form the picturesque grotto and canyon. It’s like swimming at the bottom of a huge open cave surrounded by layers of great cliffs and rocks upon which one can climb and rest to soak in the sun. Add to that the small stretch of sandy beach, grand overhanging trees and lush foliage, a sparkling 50-foot waterfall, and you have why visitors often remark Hamilton Pool is like something out of this state.

'A destination park'

“It’s a destination park,” Brewster said. “A lot of people get down into the canyon and they’ll say, ‘I can’t believe we’re in Texas. We were in Texas one moment and then five minutes later it’s like we’re in Central America.’ ”

The pool is part of the Balcones Canyonlands Preserve, a more than 30,000-acre system of protected land owned by the City of Austin, Travis County, the Nature Conservancy, the Lower Colorado River Authority and the Travis Audubon Society. In the summer months, the water is a warm and comfortable 80 degrees and suits all ages, from the youngest swimmers, who can frolic around the shallow end near the shore of the beach, to beyond the drop-off where the water can sink to depths as low as 25 feet.

Hand down, Hamilton Pool is one of the Austin area’s favorite swimming holes.

“It’s awesome,” said Matthew Stuart of Elkhart. “It’s the perfect family spot. We’ve had a blast. We’ll be back.”

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Lifestyle

Austin’s Brett Tutor joins relaunch of TLC’s ‘Trading Spaces’
Austin’s Brett Tutor joins relaunch of TLC’s ‘Trading Spaces’

Change is in the air for Austinite Brett Tutor. Tutor, 32, is one of two new carpenters on the relaunch of the TLC show “Trading Spaces.” On April 7, when the first episode airs, he may become a household name. “The show hasn’t aired yet, so no one knows who I am,” he says. “Trading Spaces” aired from 2000...
Cat reunited with owner 14 years after hurricane disappearance
Cat reunited with owner 14 years after hurricane disappearance

Perry Martin probably can’t stop pondering about his cat. In 2004, the orange tabby Thomas 2, or simply just “T2,” disappeared. It happened when the Fort Pierce man moved into a friend’s house in Stuart after Hurricane Jeanne stormed through the area, according to TCPalm. The retired K-9 officer grieved, but then came...
What not to donate to Goodwill
What not to donate to Goodwill

Tuesday night an employee was injured when he reached his hand into a box at the Goodwill on Brodie Lane and found an artillery simulator. It made a loud boom heard throughout my neighborhood and sent the police, FBI and ATF to the area to investigate if it was another bomb. It made me think, what shouldn’t you donate...
University of Texas researcher tests app for colon cancer information
University of Texas researcher tests app for colon cancer information

Could an app help save you from colon cancer? Possibly. A researcher at Dell Medical School at the University of Texas at Austin has developed an app that can help explain to you the benefits of each type of colon cancer screening (there are many) and even help you schedule one. Dr. Michael Pignone, chairman of the department of internal medicine at...
Kerri Walsh Jennings launches volleyball, music and wellness festivals

Add Kerri Walsh Jennings to the list of celebs who landed in Austin recently during South by Southwest. The professional beach volleyball player, who has three gold and one bronze Olympic medals to her name, came to launch her new p1440 beach volleyball event series. The organization was a title sponsor of day parties at Waterloo Records. We intended...
More Stories