It’s September. It’s Texas.
To paraphrase Shakespeare, “Get thee to a swimming hole.” We bet even the Bard would have needed a refreshing break by this point of the summer.
Attempting to rank the top five public swimming holes in the Texas Hill Country can make a few waves of its own among swimming purists, a little like a foodie delving into Texas barbecue ratings. But that won’t dampen our spirits —so let’s dive in. Here are our rankings, beginning with number five all the way to number one, the top public swimming hole destination:
5. Barton Springs Pool, Austin. Yes, a tip of the hat must go to this venerable spot, named the Jewel of Austin. Located inside Zilker Park, the pool covers three acres, continually replenished by over one million spring-fed gallons each hour. The water stays a cool 68-70 degrees year-round, and the area is home to the endangered Barton Springs salamander. Once you’ve had a brisk swim, sunbathe on the hillside overlooking the pool while viewing the Austin skyline above the trees. Interested in a hike afterward? The water discharges into Barton Creek, and the greenbelt features miles of trails to explore. It’s said that Robert Redford learned to swim here as a child, during his visit with family in town. www.austintexas.gov/department/barton-springs-pool.
2201 Barton Springs Road, Austin, TX 78704
4. Colorado Bend State Park (Spicewood Springs), Bend. Further afield from the Austin area lies the Spicewood Springs trail, one of the many hiking options within Colorado Bend State Park, 20 miles west of Lampasas. Rather than one lagoon, this particular trail offers several smaller pools along the route. Only one is considered deep, with the others suited for wading with small children. The water is a few degrees warmer than many spring-fed pools and appeals to hikers needing a refreshing break from their journey. You can admire the 70-ft. Gorman Falls, but only from afar. This lovely feature is off-limits to swimming or even standing beneath it, due to environmental concerns.
2236 Park Hill Drive, Bend, TX 76824
3. Krause Springs, Spicewood. Owned by the Krause (pronounced Krau-see) family for over 50 years, the property lists on the National Register of Historic Places. The 32 springs on these 115 acres feed a natural swimming hole and grotto, complete with a tree swing hanging over the blue-green water. Just grab the rope, lead the charge off the ledge, and let go into a refreshingly cool pond below, surrounded by stands of pecan, oak, and cypress in the sun-dappled shade. Stroll on over to the manicured grounds of the colorful butterfly garden, listening to the soothing fountains and wind chimes, some measuring many feet in length. Pause to sit under the shady canopy at the stone tables, and take it all in. For those who wish to stay the night, primitive tent camping and RV sites with water and electric hookups are available.
424 County Road 404, Spicewood, TX 78669
2. Blue Hole Regional Park, Wimberly. Just a short distance from Wimberly’s main square, a peaceful respite of turquoise water awaits. Imagine yourself floating in the cool, peaceful, Cypress Creek, framed by towering trees along each bank. Channel your inner child by rope-swinging into the clear water, or just sit on the bank and reflect on simpler times. Then enjoy your picnic lunch and hike some of the four miles of trails throughout the 126-acre park. The City of Wimberly has done it right and preserved this place for not only for their own community, but also for the many out-of-towners visiting each year. In addition to the nearby Jacob’s Well, a 140-foot deep artesian spring, the area receives rainwater filtered through natural limestone bluffs, to help create this serene refuge.
100 Blue Hole Lane, Wimberly, TX 76876
1. And our top recommended public swimming hole spot is: Hamilton Pool Preserve, Dripping Springs. A quarter-mile hike down a rugged trail reveals another world, with one visitor calling it similar to the movie “Jurassic Park.” Rather than a park, it’s actually part of the Balcones Canyonlands Preserve. Thousands of years of water erosion have created a semi-circular cave and waterfall paradise from the collapsed grotto and canyon. The water trickling from above never runs dry. Feel free to enjoy a “shower” under these waterfalls. A small beach area provides a chance to spread a blanket and marvel at the surroundings. Few amenities are provided, but Hamilton Pool’s primary attraction is its simple, natural beauty.
24300 Hamilton Pool Road, Dripping Springs, TX 78620
While each of these sites is open to the public, space is limited, and reservations are required. You are encouraged to check for the latest updates on any coronavirus restrictions prior to your visit.
Blog provided by John Spaulding