Just 23 miles west of Austin, Texas, is a breathtaking natural oasis emerging out of the hill country chaparral.
Hamilton Pool is a natural spring formed in the limestone bedrock and fed by an underground river, which also feeds the small tributaries and lush flora surrounding the pool. The abundant freshwater has allowed a diverse population of trees and vegetation to emerge surrounding the pool, forming what is now a protected nature preserve.
The first thing visitors marvel at is the deep overhang etched into the far wall of the pool — remnants of a natural dome that once concealed the entire grotto underground until it collapsed more than a century ago. The sheer cavern now provides deep shade and rocky exploration for visitors.
Waterfalls routinely fall from the lip of the overhang, flowing down the 50-foot drop and splashing into the cool water below, making this a beautiful and refreshing location for sunbaked summer adventurers and swimmers. In case of the high levels of certain bacteria, the pool is closed for swimming.
Besides being a popular tourist attraction, this place is a rich ecosystem. The ceiling of the pool and cliffs surrounding the grotto are home to moss, cliff swallows, and maidenhair fern.
Know Before You Go
23 miles west of Austin, on Highway 71. Surrounded by the Hamilton Nature Preserve. They require reservations year round and pets and dogs are not allowed anywhere in the park not even if they stay in the car.
Steep. 25 mile hike one way with rocks as steps and very uneven surfaces