October 21, 2014

Wild Texas Parks: Hamilton Pool Nature Preserve - Dripping Springs, TX

Hamilton Pool Nature Preserve
Dripping Springs, Texas (Travis County)

About the Nature Preserve / Wilderness Park

Hamilton Pool and fifty-foot waterfall
Photo
Copyright © Justin W. Moore
Hamilton Pool Nature Preserve consists of 232 acres of protected natural habitat featuring a jade green pool into which a 50-foot waterfall flows. Formed long ago by the collapse of a large grotto (cave) into Hamilton Creek, the pool is surrounded by huge slabs of limestone that rest by the water's edge; large stalagtites grow from the ceiling high above. The ceiling and surrounding cliffs of the grotto are home to moss, maidenhair fern and cliff swallows. The Ashe juniper (cedar) uplands of the preserve are home to the endangered golden-cheeked warbler. A complete checklist of the Birds of Hamilton Pool is available.

Since the 1960's, Hamilton Pool has been a favorite summer swimming spot for Austin visitors and residents. The natural pool and creek are not chemically treated, so water quality is monitored regularly and swimming is occasionally restricted; call ahead to check conditions before your visit. Note: There are no lifeguards on duty, and drinking water and concessions are not available. Composting toilets and picnic tables are provided near the parking lot. Since Hamilton Pool is a nature preserve, the following rules apply: no fishing, mountain biking, camping, dogs or other pets. Cooking and fires are also not permitted.

In addition to swimming and picnicking, hiking and nature study opportunities are also available at the preserve. Visitors making the .5-mile (round-trip) hike to the pool begin at the parking lot and descend into a narrow box canyon featuring impressive rock outcrops, bald cypress, lush plant life and peacefully flowing Hamilton Creek. The right fork of the trail junction, located by the creek, leads upstream to Hamilton Pool and the 50-foot waterfall, while the left fork (Canyon Trail, 3/4 mile) leads downstream to Hamilton Creek's confluence with the Pedernales River. Be advised that the Canyon Trail, and occasionally the entire preserve, may be closed to visitors after periods of heavy rain. Guided nature tours are available every Sunday at 10 AM or by appointment; call the park for reservations.

Park Ratings

Explanation of Symbols
Campsites/Overnight Facilities 0 star
Leashed Pets Permitted? NO
Picnic Areas/Playgrounds* 1 star
Solitude** 2 star
Trail System* 1 star
Water Recreation* 1 star
Wildlife*** 3 star
Ratings are based on a scale of 0 (low) to 4 (high).

Wild Texas Notebook

Check with the park staff upon entry to determine if the Canyon Trail leading to the Pedernales River is open for the day. This trail occasionally gets closed due to flooding rains. Even when the trail is closed, you will still be able to hike from the parking lot to the waterfall and pool. During one of our visits, we explored and photographed the trail around the pool for almost 2 hours and found no shortage of impressive and beautiful scenery, as you can see from our Hamilton Pool slideshow.

Location

Located about 30 miles southwest of Austin. Take Highway 71 west of Austin through the town of Bee Cave and turn left onto FM 3238 (Hamilton Pool Road). Travel 13 miles to the Preserve entrance on your right.

The nearest major Texas cities are: Austin, Corpus Christi, San Antonio, Houston, Dallas

Maps for Hamilton Pool Nature Preserve

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Coordinates for GPS Users:

30.3435334° Latitude    -98.133904° Longitude (WGS84/NAD83; decimal degrees)
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Hours

Weather-permitting, the preserve is open for day use activities 7 days a week year-round (except Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day & New Year's Day) from 9 AM to 6 PM. Entry to the park is not permitted after 5:30 PM.

NOTE: During periods of peak visitation, such as holidays and weekends, the park quickly fills to capacity -- all available parking spaces become filled. This forces the park to close until parking spaces become available.

Fees

A park entrance fee is charged per day. Contact the park for specific fee information.

An annual permit can be purchased for $75 to enable free day use for one vehicle and a $5 discount off camping fees in Travis County parks that permit camping.

Dripping Springs, Texas Weather

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Official Contact Information

The Nature Preserve / Wilderness Park is managed by the Travis County.

Travis County Hamilton Pool Nature Preserve
24300 Hamilton Pool Rd.
Dripping Springs, TX 78620

Telephone: (512)264-2740

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