Thousands of years of erosion formed the collapsed lime-stone grotto and canyon into which Hamilton Creek feeds before flowing three-quarters of a mile to the Pedernales River. You won’t likely forget standing on the slippery rock under the pins-and-needles spray of the 45-foot waterfall. The water temperature varies from 80 degrees in the heat of the summer to the polar-bear-worthy upper 40s in winter.
Frequented first by Tonkawa and Lipan Apaches, this oasis was owned by Morgan Hamilton (brother of Texas Governor Andrew Jackson Hamilton) in the 1860s. The Reimer family bought the land in the 1880s to raise sheep and cattle, and opened the pool for public swimming around the turn of the century. Its popularity grew in the 1960s and by the 1980s, crowds descended regularly. All those humans, cows, sheep, and goats left the property worse for wear and tear. In 1985, Travis County bought the pool and surrounding 232 acres and restored its natural glory with prescribed burns, prairie restoration, water-quality monitoring—and limits on how many people can come and where they can go. Reaching the pool requires a quarter-mile hike and
a descent down rock steps, so wear sturdy shoes.
Hamilton Pool Preserve is at 24300 Hamilton Pool Rd., 512/264-2740; https://parks.traviscountytx.gov/find-a-park/hamilton-pool. Call for hours, swimming conditions, and admission fees. No lifeguard.