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General Information

Address

24300 Hamilton Pool Rd.
Dripping Spgs, TX
78620
Map & Directions

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Hours of Operation

Reservations required to visit Hamilton Pool Preserve. Reservation periods are 9 am – 1 pm, and 2 pm – 6 pm. All recreational activities end at 12:30 pm and 5:30 pm. No entry is allowed after 12:30 pm and 5:30 pm, respectively. Call 512-264-2740 for updates on the preserve status for your reservation period.

General Information

Acreage: 232

Park Fees
(reservation fee required in addition to park entrance fee)

Nearby Parks

Travis County Parks

Hamilton Pool Preserve

News & Alerts

For updated information about Hamilton Pool Preserve please call our public information line at 512-264-2740 The message is updated daily at 8:30 am, or when heavy rain changes our status during the day.  Remember, on rare occasions, the preserve sometimes closes to all visitors, even hikers, due to weather-related public safety concerns and emergencies.

ALERT:  RESERVATIONS REQUIRED TO VISIT HAMILTON POOL PRESERVE - Reservations are required to visit Hamilton Pool Preserve every day through October 31, 2018.  In November and December 2018, reservations are required only for weekends and official Travis County holidays.

Please make your reservation before you arrive at Hamilton Pool Preserve. 

You make your reservation online by paying $11 with a credit card.  You will also pay $15 per vehicle in cash for an entrance permit when you arrive at the preserve.  Credit cards are not accepted when you arrive at the preserve.  Bring cash.

You can bring only one vehicle with each reservation.  You can bring no more than 8 people with each reservation.

Your reservation receipt will be emailed to you very shortly after you make the reservation.

Reservation Periods:  9 am - 1 pm , 2 pm - 6 pm

No entry after 12:30 pm and 5:30 pm.  All recreational activities end at 12:30 pm and 5:30 pm. 

All fees are non-refundable once you have paid them.  The deadline to reschedule a reservation is midnight before your reservation.  You cannot reschedule on the same date as your reservation.

Swimming is sometimes not allowed due to high bacteria.  Swimming is NOT guaranteed with your reservation.

Click Here to Make a Reservation

March 1, 2018 – December 31, 2018

  • Once you make a reservation all fees are non-refundable.
  • Swimming is not guaranteed with your reservation.
  • The deadline to reschedule your reservation is midnight before your reservation.   See our Frequently Asked Questions for more information.
  • The typical total price for visiting Hamilton Pool Preserve is $26 per vehicle per morning or afternoon time slot. Typical vehicle fees are as follows:
    •  $10 reservation fee – paid online with credit card, not refundable.
    • $1 credit card service fee – paid online with credit card, not refundable.
    • $15 entrance fee – paid at Hamilton Pool with cash or local check, no credit cards accepted at the Preserve.
  • Reservations are required to enter Hamilton Pool Preserve every day from March 1, 2018 through October 31, 2018. In November and December 2018 reservations are required on weekends and official Travis County holidays.
  • Print your reservation receipt and show it to Preserve staff when you arrive. Alternatively, you can show your receipt on your cell phone to Preserve staff when you arrive.
  • Only one vehicle/motorcycle allowed per reservation. Additional vehicles require additional reservations. Pedestrians/bicycle groups will be allowed up to 8 people per reservation, but they will also pay the $8 per person Entrance Fee.
  • Reservations are not valid for commercial use or for shuttle.
  • The reservation periods are from 9 am – 1 pm and from 2 pm – 6 pm. Each reservation period requires a separate reservation. On each day, all recreational activities, such as hiking, birding and swimming, will end at 12:30 pm and at 5:30 pm.  All visitors must return to their vehicles so that they can exit the Preserve by 1 pm and by 6 pm respectively. No entry allowed after 12:30 pm and 5:30 pm.
  • Public Safety Closures – Hamilton Pool Preserve occasionally closes due to hazardous conditions, such as flooding.  You should call the Public Information Line at 512-264-2740 for the most up to date information about the preserve’s status.  Information is updated daily at 8:30 am.
  • Hamilton Pool is a nature preserve (part of the Balcones Canyonlands Conservation Plan) with some rules that you need to know before you make a reservation:
    • No pets allowed, not even on a leash or in your vehicle.  Please do not bring them.
    • The hiking trail to the pool is ¼ mile (0.4 Km) long.  It is steep with uneven steps and takes approximately 30 minutes to hike from the parking lot to the pool and back.
    • Check the official Travis County Hamilton Pool Preserve web site (https://parks.traviscountytx.gov/find-a-park/hamilton-pool) for more detailed information that might pertain to your visit.


  • Warning: If you purchase a reservation from somewhere other than our official Travis County Hamilton Pool Preserve website, we cannot guarantee that the reservation you buy is legitimate.

For more information about Hamilton Pool Preserve and the reservation system please click on the link to our Frequently Asked Questions.

SWIMMING STATUS: We are currently allowing swimming. Remember there is no lifeguard on duty. Swim at your own risk.

What To Know Before You Come

  1. Calling the Public Information Line will let you know the current status of the preserve, whether we're allowing swimming and hiking.  Remember, on rare occasions, the preserve somtimes closes due to weather-related public safety concerns and other emergencies.  The phone number is 512-264-2740.  It is updated daily at 8:30 am, or when heavy rain changes our status during the day.
  2. Reservations are required to visit Hamilton Pool Preserve.  Please make your reservations online before you arrive at the preserve. 
  3. The fee to make a reservation is $11.  You pay for the reservation online with a credit card.  You will also pay Entrance Fees when you arrive at the preserve.  They are paid in cash: $15 per vehicle, or $5 per vehicle if vehicle has a senior citizen (62 years) or a disabled vet (60%) with VA documentation.
  4. Reservation time periods are: 9 am - 1 pm, and 2 pm - 6 pm.  All recreational activities end at 12:30 pm and 5:30 pm.  No entry is allowed after 12:30 pm and 5:30 pm, respectively. 
  5. We accept cash and most checks at the preserve.  We DO NOT accept credit and debit cards at the preserve.
  6. Pets are prohibited. No exceptions, not even if the pet is on a leash or kept in your vehicle. Please do not bring them.
  7. No Lifeguard is on duty.  Swim at your own risk, when swimming is allowed.  Life vests are provided, while supplies last.
  8. Bring drinking water.  Drinking water and concessions are not available.
  9. 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.
  10. Glass bottles and the public display of alcohol consumption are prohibited.

 

Description

 

Hamilton Pool Preserve was designated a nature preserve by the Travis County Commissioner's Court in 1990. Located 3/4 mile upstream from its confluence with the Pedernales River, Hamilton Creek spills out over limestone outcroppings to create a 50 foot waterfall as it plunges into the head of a steep box canyon. The waterfall never completely dries up, but in dry times it does slow to a trickle. However, the pool's water level stays pretty constant, even during periods of drought.

The preserve is home to the Golden-Cheeked Warbler, and a great variety of other birds. The diverse vegetation of Hamilton Pool ranges from semi-arid species in the uplands to riparian species in the canyon. The uplands of the preserve are a juniper and oak savannah with a variety of native grasses and wildflowers. Several rare plant species including canyon mock-orange, red bay (western-most colony of this eastern species), and chatter box orchid are known to occur in the canyon areas along Hamilton Creek.

Hamilton Pool Preserve is a part of the Balcones Canyonlands Preserve (BCP). The BCP is a 30,428-acre system of endangered species habitat owned by Travis County, the City of Austin, The Nature Conservancy, the Lower Colorado River Authority, Travis Audubon Society, as well as privately owned lands. The BCP represents a regional effort to balance protection of endangered species habitat with economic development. For more information about BCP, call the Travis County BCP coordinator at (512) 854-9383

Amenities

  • picnic tables
  • hiking trails
  • restrooms

A Brief History

A unique natural area surrounds this pool, collapsed grotto and canyon, formed by thousands of years of water erosion. Lush plant communities, a variety of wildlife species and natural shelter attracted the area's first inhabitants. Cultural remains date back over 8,000 years.

Prior to the 1800s, Tonkawa and Lipan Apaches lived in the area. In the mid 1860s, Morgan C. Hamilton owned the property now known as Hamilton Pool Preserve. His brother, Andrew Jake Hamilton (the 10th governor of Texas), evidently visited this beautiful grotto while he was governor. In the 1880s, the Reimers, an immigrant family from Germany, bought the property to raise sheep and cattle. Legend has it that their eight-year-old son discovered the collapsed grotto.

Although ranchers might have considered the grotto a safety hazard for their livestock, the Reimers soon realized its value as a recreational area and opened the property for public use. Around the turn of the century, only a handful of people had the transportation to come out and enjoy the cool, serene surroundings. By the 1960s, and on into the 1980s, Hamilton Pool's popularity had soared, as visitors packed the legendary swimming hole. The land suffered from sheer numbers and few restrictions.

In addition to impact from the visiting public, cattle, sheep and goats grazed the delicate ecosystem for several decades, resulting in changes to the native vegetation. In 1980, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department cited Hamilton Pool as the most significant natural area in rural Travis County. In 1985, Travis County purchased 232 acres from the Reimers family and implemented an aggressive land management plan to restore Hamilton Pool. Now, as Hamilton Pool Preserve, the lush fern-canopied cliffs are making a comeback, as are the rolling hills and meadows of the uplands.

Ongoing land management practices at Hamilton Pool Preserve include prescribed burns, prairie restoration, endangered species surveys, biological inventories and water quality monitoring.

Special Notes and Rules

Swim at your own risk (when swimming is allowed). There are no lifeguards on duty.   Swimming is sometimes prohibited due to high bacteria levels.  For updated swimming conditions please call (512) 264-2740 before you come.

Pets are prohibited. No exceptions, not even if the pet is on a leash or kept in your vehicle. Please do not bring them.

The preserve is occasionally closed due to flooding or hazardous trail conditions.  Call the public information line at 512-264-2740 for updated information.  This recorded message is updated daily at 9 am, or during the day if rain changes our status.

Day use only preserve: Recreational activities, such as swimming, end at 5:30 pm.  No entry is allowed after 5:30 pm.  The gate is locked at 6:00 pm and all visitors must be out before that time.  Camping is not allowed.

Drinking water and other concessions are not available. 

The pool trail is 1/4 mile in length and includes a series of rock steps descending into the canyon.  The trail is rugged and steep.  Sturdy footgear is recommended. Visitors with physical disabilities can arrange assistance into the canyon by requesting a ride by preserve staff.  The ride takes a visitor into the canyon, but not all the way to the pool, since no vehicle can make it to the pool.

Pets are prohibited. No exceptions, not even if the pet is on a leash or kept in your vehicle. Please do not bring them.

Cooking, fires, fishing, overnight camping, mountain biking, and firearms are all prohibited.

Glass containers and fireworks are prohibited in all Travis County parks.

Public display of consumption of alcohol is prohibited.

Swimming is periodically prohibited due to high bacteria levels in the pool, and a heavy rain will typically close the pool to swimming for a week or so. Nesting cliff swallows contribute to high bacteria levels in the early summer.

DRONES AND AERIAL CRAFT:  The use of drones and other aerial craft are not permitted in Hamilton Pool Preserve.  This policy is necessary to preserve the safety of the visitors and the ability of visitors to enjoy the natural setting.  Hamilton Pool is also a nature preserve with a mission to provide habitat for wildlife.  Drones may be flown in nearby Reimers Ranch Park, as long as they are not flown over areas crowded with people.

GUIDED TOURS:  October through April.  Saturdays at 10 am, weather permitting.  Forty-five minutes in duration.

Limited to the first 20 participants. Included in the regular entrance fee.  Preserve staff will talk about the natural history of Hamilton Pool.  Hike will be about a mile long.  The trail will be steep and rugged.  Sturdy shoes are recommended. 

Other guided tours for groups are available by appointment October through April. Call (512) 264-2740 for more information.