logo tc

General Information

Address

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

Hours of Operation

9:00 am to 6:00 pm daily, weather permitting. No entry after 5:30 pm. Recreational activities, such as swimming, end at 5:30 pm.  Call (512) 264-2740 for daily updates.

General Information

Acreage: 232

Park Fees

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 9 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.

Reservation Information

Notice: Beginning May 15, 2016, and through September 30, 2016, reservations will be required to enter Hamilton Pool Preserve. Click here to make reservations for this period.


SWIMMING STATUS:  Hamilton Pool Preserve is currently NOT allowing swimming due to high bacteria levels.  The earliest swimming might be allowed is Saturday, May 7.  You can call the public information line at that time for updated information.  The public information phone number is 512-264-2740.  It is updated daily at 9 am, or when rain changes our status during the day.

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.  

WAITING LINE:  Be aware that during warm weather, especially when swimming is allowed, many visitors are turned away and are not allowed entry due to overcrowding in the preserve.  Please have alternative plans in case you attempt to visit Hamilton Pool and are turned away due to overcrowding.   It is usually not possible to avoid the crowd, no matter what time you come to the preserve. Vehicles are not allowed to wait at the gates before our opening time because there is not enough room to form a waiting line without blocking traffic on Hamilton Pool Road.  Please be respectful of local residents by not waiting in driveways or on public roads.

Hamilton Pool is nestled inside a small canyon that can only accommodate a limited number of people.  During summer days and other warm weather days, especially when swimming is allowed, the number of people trying to visit Hamilton Pool greatly exceeds the number of people the canyon can accommodate.  We impose a limit on the number of people who can be in the preserve at any one time.  A waiting line forms and people are allowed to enter as others leave.  The waiting time is often an hour.  When the waiting line reaches the maximum length allowable we turn newly arriving vehicles away and do not allow them to wait in line, or anywhere on preserve grounds.  More vehicles are permitted to join the waiting line at a later time when conditions allow.  This practice is necessary to protect the natural habitat inside the preserve, maintain proper traffic flow on Hamilton Pool Road, and to avoid unsafe situations.  Bicyclists and pedestrians must wait their turn to enter as well because it is the number of people in the canyon we are limiting. We apologize for the inconvenience, but Hamilton Pool Preserve is a member of the federal Balcones Canyonlands Preserve and we must limit the number of people inside its boundaries to protect its beautiful habitat. 

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 the preserve somtimes closes due to recent rain and hazardous trail conditions.  The phone number is 512-264-2740.  It is updated daily at 9 am, or when rain changes our status during the day.
  2. We accept cash and local checks.  We do NOT accept credit cards. 
  3. Fees are $15 per vehicle, or $5 per vehicle if vehicle has a senior citizen (62 years) or a disabled vet (60%).
  4. Pets are prohibited. No exceptions, not even if the pet is on a leash or kept in your vehicle. Please do not bring them.
  5. No Lifeguard is on duty.  Swim at your own risk, when swimming is allowed.
  6. Recreational activities end at 5:30 pm.  No entry is allowed after 5:30 pm.  The gates lock at 6:00 pm.
  7. Bring drinking water.  Drinking water and concessions are not available.
  8. 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.
  9. Glass bottles and the public display of alcohol consumption are prohibited.
  10. Please have alternative plans ready in case you are turned away due to overcrowding.  This is very common during the warm-weather months.  In the summer, it happens everyday when swimming is allowed.

Description

 

Hamilton Pool Preserve is a historic swimming hole which was designated a 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.

During summer days when swimming is allowed, and especially on summer weekends, the number of people trying to visit Hamilton Pool greatly exceeds the number of people the canyon can accommodate.  We impose a limit on the number of people who can be in the preserve at any one time.  A waiting line forms and people are allowed to enter as others leave.  The waiting time usually is one and a half hours.  When the waiting line reaches the maximum length allowable we turn newly arriving vehicles away and do not allow them to wait in line, or anywhere on preserve grounds.  More vehicles are permitted to join the waiting line at a later time when conditions allow.  This practice is necessary to maintain proper traffic flow on Hamilton Pool Road and to avoid unsafe situations.

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. 

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

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.

GUIDED TOURS:  October through April.  Saturdays at 10 am, weather permitting.  One hour 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.