Water Access - Currently Not Allowed
Hamilton Pool Preserve visitors are currently not allowed to get into the water due to recent rains and possible high bacteria levels. The earliest swimming might be allowed is Friday, February 10. When we do allow swimming only a very limited portion of the pool is available for water access due to the continuing problem of falling rocks. As always, whether swimming will be allowed depends on factors beyond our control, such as bacteria levels and recent rain. Water access is never guaranteed with a reservation. Visitors with reservations have until midnight before their reservations to go online to reschedule.
Trail Under Overhanging Cliff Closed
The section of trail that goes underneath the overhanging cliff at the pool is closed for safety concerns. Visitors can access the beach, but cannot walk all the way around the pool to below the waterfall. Rocks have been falling from the cliffs above the trail. We continue to consult with geologists about this hazard.
Guided Hikes Suspended
The Saturday morning guided hikes at Hamilton Pool Preserve are suspended until further notice.
Saturday, February 4 - Reopen After Ice Storm
Hamilton Pool Preserve is expected to reopen for hiking to the pool area on Saturday, February 4 after being closed for the ice storm. No water access will be allowed and the trail to the river will be closed due to numerous dangerous tree limbs.
Now Accepting Reservations Through May 2023
You can now make Hamilton Pool Preserve reservations online for dates through May 2023. Reservations for dates in June 2023 and beyond are not available yet. Swimming is not guaranteed with your reservation. The trail underneath the overhanging cliff that leads to the bottom of the waterfall is closed. See alert message above titled "Trail Under Overhanging Cliff Closed."
Reservations Needed Every Day of the Week
Reservations are required every day of the week to visit Hamilton Pool Preserve. Please make your reservation online before arriving at the preserve. Visitors cannot remain in the preserve after their reservation period ends. Please arrive at least an hour before your reservation period ends to give yourself time to enjoy the preserve. No entry allowed after the reservation time period is past.
24300 Hamilton Road
Dripping Springs, TX 78620
Morning Reservation Period
9:00 am - 12:30 pm
Afternoon Reservation Period
2:00 pm - 5:30 pm
Activities and Amenities
Swimming (not guaranteed with reservation due to conditions)
Public Information Line
Recorded message is updated daily or when conditions change.
Make your reservation before coming to the preserve.
You make your reservation online by paying $12 per vehicle with a credit card. You will also pay additional per person entrance fees when you arrive at the preserve.
Reservation Fee per Vehicle
$12 (1 vehicle max, 8 people max)
Per Person Entrance Fees
$8 per adult (13 to 61 years of age)
$3 per senior (62 years of age and older)
$0 per child (12 years of age and younger)
Cash only at the preserve. Credit and debit cards are not accepted. All fees are non-refundable.
With each reservation you can bring a maximum of one vehicle and a maximum of 8 people. Additional vehicles or people require additional reservations. Bicyclists and pedestrians can bring a maximum of 8 people per reservation, but they must still pay the per-person entrance fees upon arrival.
- At least one person named on the reservation must be present to use the reservation. Photo identification is required upon arrival at the preserve.
- Only one vehicle is allowed with each reservation. No more than 8 people with each reservation.
- Your reservation receipt will be emailed to you shortly after you make the reservation.
- Swimming is NOT guaranteed with your reservation. Swimming is sometimes not allowed due to high bacteria.
The deadline to reschedule a reservation is midnight before your reservation. You cannot reschedule on the same date as your reservation.
There is a morning time slot (9:00 am - 12:30 pm) and an afternoon time slot (2:00 pm - 5:30 pm). Each time slot requires a reservation.
Morning Reservation Period
No entry is allowed after 12:30 pm. Recreational activities end at 12:30 pm. Visitors must exit the preserve by 1:00 pm.
Afternoon Reservation Period
No entry is allowed after 5:30 pm. Recreational activities end at 5:30 pm. Visitors must exit the preserve by 6:00 pm.
Pedestrian, Bicycle, Motorcycle
Only one vehicle/motorcycle allowed per reservation. Additional vehicles require additional reservations. Pedestrians and 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.
We can only guarantee reservations made through our official Travis County Hamilton Pool Preserve website. Purchases made elsewhere may not be legitimate.
Know Before You Go
Public Information Line
Please call the Public Information Line for the most up to date status of the preserve at 512-264-2740. The message is updated daily and when heavy rain changes our status during the day. On rare occasions, the preserve closes to all visitors due to weather-related public safety concerns and emergencies.
The swimming status is determined by bacteria levels and recent rainfall. We allow swimming all year long on days when the bacteria levels and recent rainfall are acceptable, but swimming is NOT guaranteed. Please check this page for an up-to-date status on swimming. Be aware the water temperature can drop below 50 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter and spring. That's very cold for swimming!
There is no lifeguard on duty so swim at your own risk. Life vests are provided by the pool, while supplies last.
Pets are prohibited. No exceptions, not even if the pet is on a leash or kept in your vehicle. For information about service animals, please see our FAQ page.
The hiking trail to the pool is a quarter of a mile long. It is steep, narrow, and rugged with uneven steps. Sturdy shoes are recommended. It takes approximately 30 minutes to hike from the parking lot to the pool and back.
Join us on a guided hike through Hamilton Pool Preserve. Our tour begins in the dry uplands and descends 80 feet into a canyon which features a wide diversity of native plants and animals. Along the way, learn about the history of Hamilton Pool and how its unique geological features were formed. The tour ends at the collapsed grotto, waterfall, and pool. The tour lasts about an hour.
Guided hikes are unfortunately cancelled until further notice due to COVID concerns.
Food and Water
Bring drinking water. Drinking water and concessions are not available.
While the park provides access to the listed activities, Travis County Parks does not provide any equipment, except life vests for swimming.
There is no electricity or running water.
We accept cash but do not accept credit or debit cards at the entrance booth.
The following are prohibited:
- Glass containers
- Ground fires
- Public display of consumption of alcohol
- Tobacco products
For more information, view the Parks Rules and Safety page.
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 chatterbox 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 encompasses more than 31,000 acres of endangered species habitat owned by Travis County, the City of Austin, The Nature Conservancy, the Lower Colorado River Authority, Travis Audubon Society, and private landowners. The BCP represents a regional effort to balance protection of endangered species habitat with economic development. For more information about the BCP, contact [email protected].
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 soared, but the land suffered from sheer the number of visitors and few restrictions.
In addition to the 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, 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.