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General Information

Address

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

Hours of Operation

Reservations required May 15 – September 30. 9:00 am to 1:00 pm and 2:00 pm to 6:00 pm daily, weather permitting. Recreational activities, such as swimming, end 30 minutes prior to end of reservation period. Call (512) 264-2740 for daily updates.

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 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.

ALERT:  Fully Booked For All Weekend Days - If you do not have a reservation please do not drive to Hamilton Pool today.  If you do have a reservation, carefully read the instructions shown on the first page after you click on the reservation link above.  Hamilton Pool Preserve is already fully booked every weekend until the end of the reservation season.

You can make your reservations online for a particular date.  Choose from one of two time periods:  9 am - 1 pm, or 2 pm- 6 pm.  You pay online for your reservation fee, and pay for your entrance fee with cash or local check when you arrive at the preserve. 

Reservations are not refundable.  Only one vehicle allowed for each reservation.  Each vehicle needs its own reservation.  Once you make your reservation, you cannot reschedule for a different date.  Swimming is not always allowed and it is not guaranteed with your reservation.

 

SWIMMING STATUS:  Hamilton Pool Preserve is currently NOT allowing swimming due to high bacteria caused by recent heavy rain.  The earliest swimming might be allowed is Saturday, August 27.  You can call the Public Information Line at 512-264-2740 at that time for updated information.  It is updated daily at 8:30 am, or when rain changes our status during the day.


 

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 8:30 am, or when rain changes our status during the day.
  2. Reservations are required to visit Hamilton Pool through September 30.  Please make your reservation before you arrive at the preserve and follow the instructions shown during the reservation process.
  3. We accept cash and local checks.  We do NOT accept credit cards. 
  4. Fees are $15 per vehicle, or $5 per vehicle if vehicle has a senior citizen (62 years) or a disabled vet (60%).
  5. Pets are prohibited. No exceptions, not even if the pet is on a leash or kept in your vehicle. Please do not bring them.
  6. No Lifeguard is on duty.  Swim at your own risk, when swimming is allowed.
  7. Recreational activities end at 12:30 pm and 5:30 pm, for morning and afternoon reservation periods respectively.  No entry is allowed after 12:30 pm and 5:30 pm.  All visitors must exit the preserve at 1:00 pm and 6:00 pm.
  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.

During months without the reservation system, 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.  The waiting time usually is one hour.  When the waiting line reaches the maximum length allowable we turn all newly arriving visitors away and do not allow them to wait in line, or anywhere on preserve grounds.  More visitors 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.

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.  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.