Hamilton Pool – Cool Texas Pools
Hamilton Pool, also know as Hamilton Pool Preserve, is a natural pool north of San Antonio and west of Austin. The pool is large and features a natural cliff from which river water flows, creating its characteristic waterfall. Most of the pool is under sunlight, but remains cool and shaded underneath the overhang.
Hamilton Pool History
Thousands of years ago, a river with a hollow bottom collapsed after erosion caused its ground support to become too thin. The erosion ceased after the river began to flow into the grotto and climate change in Texas caused drought conditions. The erosion underneath the original riverbed remains as an inlet underneath a rocky overhang.
The area around Hamilton Pool was occupied by two Native American tribes before the 1800s. The Tonkawa and an Apache tribe called the Lipan lived and hunted on the grounds. American settlers moved into the surrounding area and the land was claimed by Morgan C. Hamilton in the mid-1800s.
A German immigrant family called the Reimers bought the land that included Hamilton Pool so they could start a ranch. Since the cliff was so high and dangerous, they decided to open the area to recreational visitors instead of using it to raise cattle.
The land began to suffer due to the large amount of people who flocked to the pool and the lack of rules for pool use. Into the 1900s, animal populations also increased and began using the land around the pool to drink and graze. The impact from swimmers and animals caused the local vegetation to evolve.
Travis County bought the land from the Reimers and began to restore Hamilton Pool. Their efforts have included:
- Controlled Burning
- Restoration of Prairies
- Animal Population Surveys
- Wildlife Research
- Monitoring of Water Quality
These projects are ongoing and have occasionally caused Hamilton Pool to be closed to visitors.
Cool Features of Hamilton Pool
The unique ecosystem around Hamilton Pool is one of the big draws for recreational swimmers. It is known for:
- Bald Cypress Trees
- Juniper and Oak Savannahs
- Canyon Mock-Orange
- Red Bay
- Chatter Box Orchids
To fully enjoy the rare plants and wildlife in Hamilton Pool Preserve, the county has also provided these amenities:
- Hiking Trails
- Picnic Tables
However, certain activities are prohibited on the grounds, including:
- Overnight camping
- Mountain biking
The water at Hamilton Pool is often emerald-colored. Reflections from the cliff create interesting light patterns that reflect off of the water’s surface.
How Do I Get There?
To enter Hamilton pool, you must first gain entry to the park grounds. The entrance fee is $15 per vehicle. Only 75 vehicles can park on site at one time.
The pool itself has its own capacity. Entrance to the pool is not based on the number of vehicles in the parking lot. Swimmers may have to wait 30 minutes – 1 hour before being allowed to swim.
Hamilton Pool Preserve opens at 9:00 AM and entry is allowed until 5:30. The park will close and guests will be moved out by 6:00.