Located approximately 30 miles (48 km) southwest of Austin, Texas, the Hamilton Pool Preserve is a historic swimming hole that was designated a preserve by the Travis County Commissioner’s Court in 1990. Located 3/4 mile upstream from its confluence with the Pedernales River, Hamilton Creek spills out over limestone outcroppings to create a 50-foot waterfall as it plunges into the head of a steep box canyon. The waterfall never completely dries up, but in dry times it does slow to a trickle.
The pool’s water level, however, stays pretty constant even during periods of drought. The preserve is home to the Golden-Cheeked Warbler, and a great variety of other birds. The diverse vegetation of Hamilton Pool ranges from semi-arid species in the uplands to riparian species in the canyon. The uplands of the preserve are a juniper and oak savannah with a variety of native grasses and wildflowers. Several rare plant species including canyon mock-orange, red bay (a western-most colony of this eastern species), and chatterbox orchid are known to occur in the canyon areas along Hamilton Creek.
A unique natural area surrounds this pool, collapsed grotto and canyon, formed by thousands of years of water erosion. Lush plant communities, a variety of wildlife species, and natural shelter attracted the area’s first inhabitants. Cultural remains date back over 8,000 years.