Hamilton Pool

Hamilton Pool

This place demands solitude and quiet devotion. Give it that on a morning when you are not afraid to be alone, and in return it will show you the passing of eons. Here, in this cave, memories of things ancient still live. They seep from its walls to nurse maidenhair ferns and rich blankets of moss. These are the memories of primordial seas, of sanctuary gained from hostile skies, of the scratching of a million claws breaking free of their shells.

The jade waters are there to transfix you—don’t linger. What you are searching for is in the heart of the cave. Track its borders and you will be rewarded in the falling waters of the spring itself.

Ferns and moss grow along the cave’s seeping walls, a stone’s throw from land where only cactus and cedar grow. All photos in this post courtesy of Maura Grace Ambrose.

Prickly pears lead the path from the parking lot to the trailhead, but soon give way to cypress along the spring-fed creek.

Water seeping from the cave ceiling forms capes of travertine, mineral deposits that drape the cave’s entrance.

Hamilton Pool is yours to swim, but from early June to mid-July swimming is frequently off-limits due to unsafe levels of bacteria. This is nesting season for the swallows that summer above the pool, and their droppings are to blame for the poor water quality. But don’t be disappointed—they are a true delight to watch.

The pool is in Dripping Springs, a little over 20 miles west of Austin.

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