Archive | July, 2012

Hill Country Swimming Holes: An Austinite’s Trek to Take a Dip

3 Jul

A small group of us set out this past Saturday morning excited to finally make the trek out to Hamilton Pool, a natural swimming hole with jade green waters, just 30 or so miles Southwest of Austin.

It’s almost a straight shot down Hwy 71 just past the Hill Country Galleria. Well, until you reach FM 3828/Hamilton Pool Rd, which was another 11-12 miles to the Hamilton Pool Nature Preserve. We turned into the park with much anticipation after our start was slowed by many stops along the way. The sign greeting us read, NO SWIMMING today.

The preserve is often closed to swimming due to high bacteria levels, which are closely monitored. I had thought about calling, but the website I had read said this typically happened after a heavy rain and at this point there had been no rain. My advice, CALL.

It was 2p.m. by this time and it looked like with overcasts skies and the swimming hole beyond our reach, we would have to call it a day. Lucky for us, we had two experienced day trippers in the backseat who knew the hill country is home to nature springs and swimming holes galore.

We grappled with driving another 30 plus minutes to Spicewood, which hosts Krause Springs, Reimers Ranch, and The Narrows.

Krause Springs, it was! After all, I had remembered recently seeing it featured in Austin Monthly’s 112 Fun Things to do in the Summer.

Bumping along the gravel road, we had found Krause Springs. Greeted by friendly folks, they gave us the lay of the land and charged each of us just $6. Their words were faintly heard as excitement over took us and instructions ignored. All I heard was I would not take the path with steep metal stairs.

We wandered Krause Springs, which doubles as a camp ground and found the only path we could find at the time – and headed down the steep metal stairs slick with imprints of swimmers’ feet. Unbeknownst to us, the much safer path if we had listened was just a few feet to our left.

Making our way down the pathway we came to giant porous limestone rocks littered with flip flops, brightly colored towels, and an eclectic mix of families, college kids, and other Austin locals. We awkwardly walked the rocky stone beach dodging sunbathers and slippery, algae covered rock.

But, it was all worth it! You could slide right from the limestone beach into the cool waters of Krause Springs. Under the murky spring water, there were many rocks to take a foothold on. Noodles, beach balls, and rafts were prevalent. Young and old leaped from swing ropes and a nearby cliff.

From our side of beach (far left), we could faintly make out a waterfall trickling on the far right side of the beach. Making our way to the waterfall, it was much bigger as we came upon it. It was our own private quiet grotto away from clamor of the rest of the weekenders.

The trip made for a pleasurable little getaway.

What I Think You Need to Know
Free parking
Cash only
Picnic tables & grills on site
Camping available
No dogs
Alcohol permitted, but no glass.

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