Austinites who wish to swim in natural waters surrounded by beautiful cypress trees and dripping ferns don’t have to look far beyond the borders of Travis County. The governments of Austin and Travis County and private residents have worked to preserve several beautiful swimming grottos and shaded waterways, providing locals a refreshing reprieve from city life.
Hamilton Pool Preserve is an historic swimming hole and preserve in rural Travis County. A favorite summer swimming spot of Austin residents, the “pool” is located almost a mile upstream from the Pedernales River. The pool is formed by the waters of Hamilton Creek pouring out over limestone bluffs, creating a 50-foot waterfall. While the waterfall can slow to a trickle during dry seasons, the pool’s water level stays relatively constant. The area also draws nature lovers, who hope to catch sight of the Golden-Cheeked Warbler and a variety of other native birds. The bluffs above the pool are part of the nature preserve and are filled with juniper and oak savannah, as well as a variety of native grasses and wildflowers.
The pool is part of the larger Balcones Canyonlands Preserve, 30,428-acres of habitat for the protection of endangered species. Amenities at the pool include picnic tables, hiking trails, and restrooms. The pool and its surrounding landscape originally were inhabited by the Tonkawa and Lipan Apaches prior to the 1800’s. The land was later purchased by an immigrant family from Germany to raise sheep and cattle, and they eventually opened the property as a recreational area for public use. Today, use of the pool is monitored to preserve and protect the natural plant life and animals that call the pool home.
Just 34 miles west of Austin in Spicewood is Krause Springs. Touted as one of the most beautiful swimming spots in the state, Krause Springs sits atop a bluff overlooking Cypress Creek. The spring-fed swimming pool connects to the creek, which is lined with cypress trees and a waterfall that spills over a fern covered cliff. The springs are privately owned by the Krause family, who have nurtured the landscape and built rock picnic benches for visitors to enjoy.
The park is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and visitors can camp in tents or RV’s alongside the swimming hole, which maintains an average temperature of 70 degrees year round. Boats can enter the water through a boat ramp at the LCRA park at the end of Spur 191 and then ride around to access the campground. Hikers also find lots to do and can explore miles of trails on the property. The campground is open all year, and once the weather warms during the summer, visitors may swim from 9am till dusk.
The Blue Hole Regional Park is a swimming hole that almost-wasn’t. The area risked being lost to development until the Village of Wimberley purchased the property to create a public park and preserve green space. The park is open year-round and offers visitors a children’s playscape, basketball court, and hiking trails. The swimming hole is south of homes in Circle C, just northwest of San Marcos. It is fed by Cypress Creek and has been a favorite site for swimming since the founding of the nearby village.
When the land was slated for residential development, public hearings redirected plans to turn the area into parkland. The Village of Wimberley partnered with the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center to design the park’s master plan, ensuring a community-driven and environmentally sensitive approach. Today, visitors can swim in Blue Hole’s spring fed waters, camp nearby, access athletic fields, and enjoy the outdoors through a network of nature trails.
See Austin Community Pools.
Return to Moving to Austin.