Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Visit History: Hamilton Pool

It's natural history of Texas time, y'all. So put down the Dr. Pepper and Frito pie and meander over to Hamilton Pool, a remote natural pool 45 minutes west of Austin. Hamilton Pool developed thousands of years ago when the dome of an underground river collapsed due to erosion. The results are pretty impressive. 

The always-sixty-ish-degree pool is surrounded by limestone, with a massive rock awning with large stalactites extending over the water. A 50 foot waterfall flows into the pool at all times, ranging from gushing to a mere trickle on dry days. Maidenhair ferns ascend the walls of the grotto and small cliff swallows make their home in little mud huts that they construct on the cliffside. 

Cultural remains date back over 8,000 years. Before the 1800s, Tonkawa and Lipan Apaches lived in the area. In the mid-1860s, politician and merchant, Morgan C. Hamilton, owned the property and his brother, Andrew Jackson Hamilton (Texas governor from 1865-66), reportedly visited the property. In the 1880s the Reimer family bought the property to raise sheep and cattle, and their 8 year old son allegedly discovered the grotto. The Reimers opened the property for public use but Hamilton Pool didn't gain popularity until the 1960s. In 1980, it was deemed the most significant natural area in rural Travis County by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

For $15 you have access to the Pool and surrounding parks for the day. You can take the 1/4 mile 80 ft. descent path to the pool, or hike to the nearby Pedernales river.

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