We found one of the most beautiful places in the United States, and it would’ve been a shame not to mention it in our latest Monsoon Diaries adventure.
The story begins a year ago when I found a photo gallery on coolhunter.net called “Amazing Places to Experience Around the Globe.” This site instantly became a favorite and I’ve been regularly using it as a “checklist” of sorts for my future trips.
One of my favorite photos on their list has been the Hamilton Pool Nature Preserve: a beautiful natural grotto and swimming hole that was created thousands of years ago when a dome of a underground river collapsed from massive erosion. It’s now a nature preserve as well as an excuse for an easy daytrip. It’s also a public swimming pool in the summertime, as long as bacteria levels are low enough (ermm…).
So when I was invited to speak at Southwestern University of Georgetown, TX this past week, I jumped at the chance to add this to my itinerary. Even though I had only 36 hours in the city, I figured it was meant to be.
The Hamilton Pool Nature Preserve is only a mere 1 hour drive away from the campus, let alone 45 minutes from Austin, Texas. The best part is that not many people outside of Austin have heard of it, so if you ever find yourself in one of the great cities of the Lone Star state, don’t miss the opportunity to check this place out. On a good day you might have the whole place to yourself.
There’s only a $10 parking fee you have to pay in cash when you get there. The rest is an easy (but a little steep) 5 minute hike from the parking lot to the grotto.
Signs are pretty obvious when you get there. And the trail really does only take 5 minutes; along the way we saw 80 year old couples and 4 year olds hiking up and down the trail without a problem.
You know you’re close when you see rock formations and a drawbridge to the grotto:
After crossing the bridge, take it all in.
While other photos of the pool on Google would show the pool to be a crystal blue, a recent flooding caused the water to be a muddy brown when we visited. Unfortunate.
Unless you’re swimming, birdwatching, hiking the river trail (1 hour) or getting a tan, there’s really nothing else to do. If you’re here just to look, it only takes about 20-30 minutes to see everything in the pool and take your pictures. Make sure you don’t arrive too late; they close the pool everyday at 5:30pm.
So afterwards we headed back to Austin:
…and rewarded ourselves to some of the best fried chicken I’ve ever had at Lucy’s:
Anyways, I’d like to extend a shout out to my new friends at Southwestern University for making this all possible by inviting me to speak at their campus. Thank you for being great hosts, great people, and I look forward to coming back soon!
– At time of posting in Hamilton Pool Nature Preserve, it was 73.4 °F – Humidity: 27% | Wind Speed: 7km/hr | Cloud Cover: n/a