Hamilton Pool Preserve in Travis County Texas has long been touted as one of the most Instagrammable spots in Texas. To be sure, it’s a gorgeous spot and definitely worth a visit, if you manage your expectations. This 2022 guide to Hamilton Pool Preserve will help you plan a visit you’ll talk about for years to come.
Your 2022 Guide to Hamilton Pool Preserve
Managed by Travis County Parks and Recreation, Hamilton Pool is a nature preserve featuring a beautiful pool of blue green water created when an underground river collapsed. Once considered one of Texas’ hidden gems, the secret about Hamilton Pool is out and the preserve is popular with hikers and nature lovers year round.
Here’s what you need to know to visit in 2022.
Let’s just get this out of the way – you can’t swim in Hamilton Pool…
…at least not right now.
In years past, summer visitors enjoyed jumping from the rocks into the cold water that reaches a depth of 28 feet. Occasional bacteria levels would nix swimming but as of spring 2022, swimming is off the table indefinitely and perhaps permanently.
The weak, loose rocks surrounding the pool have made swimming unsafe. Geologists are working to assess the hazard but the park ranger I spoke to on my March 4th visit was not optimistic about swimming being possible in the foreseeable future.
Guests can still hike down to the pool and view, although your pictures will probably show the sections of trail roped off to keep visitors off the section of trail that goes under the cliff overhanging the pool.
Think you can get away with a quick dip? If you’re comfortable ignoring the many “no swimming” signs, there were two park rangers posted near the pool when we visited watching for anyone who might be tempted to break the rules.
Hiking at Hamilton Pool Preserve
We hiked all available trails at Hamilton Pool – 1.8 miles in about two hours. We stopped a few times to take pictures but mostly kept it moving. If you wanted to walk slower, take breaks, or stop to picnic, you could easily spend more time here.
The hike down to the pool is about 1/4 mile each way. The trail has steep stone steps and rocky terrain. I’d classify this hike as moderate. You definitely need sturdy shoes. If you need a hiking stick, there’s this nifty little stand near the start of the trailhead, or bring your own.
We hiked to the pool and took our pictures and then hiked the other side of the trail. I was kind of “meh” on the second leg of the hike. It was nearing lunch time and I was loving the idea of lunch out with my husband on his day off and would have happily cut the hike short.
The hike along the creek bed was nice and relatively easy but the terminus of the trail on the banks of the Pedernales River was a whole lot of wow. I definitely recommend doing the full hike and perhaps even carving out some time to enjoy this beautiful beach.
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Entry to Hamilton Pool Preserve
Entry to Hamilton Pool Preserve is by reservation only and reservations fill up quickly. The park is not large and when you get down to the pool area and see how small it is, you’ll appreciate the reservation system.
Make your reservations as far in advance as you can. Even though there’s no swimming, the preserve is popular and you might find getting a reservation challenging, especially on the weekends. Reservations are $12 + a $1 credit card processing fee.
But that’s not all.
Once you arrive at the park you’ll still need to pay your admission fee. Admission is $8 per person and $3 for seniors 62+. Children 12 and under and disabled veterans (50% and up) are free. We paid $21 for two hour hike (I’m a disabled vet) which is more than we’d pay to explore most city or state parks. Your admission pass is good for all other Travis County parks for the rest of the day. No other Travis County parks require a reservation, so if you spend the morning at Hamilton Pool, you can get the most out of your money by visiting another park.
Important: You can use a credit card to make your reservation but the park takes cash only.
Other things to know about visiting Hamilton Pool
Bring drinking water and any snacks you want to eat. Also be prepared to pack your trash out. No concessions are available and I did not see any trash cans in the park.
Port-o-potties are available in the parking lot.
Make sure you have photo ID, your reservation number, and cash before you set out to visit Hamilton Pool.
Other recommended items: sunscreen, insect repellant, sun hat, sunglasses, sturdy shoes, camera or GoPro, picnic blanket – the beach along the Pedernales River is a great spot for a picnic.
No pets, drones or fires allowed. For more info on prohibited items, check out the Hamilton Pool Preserve website.
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