This is my review of some of the best swimming areas in and around Austin. If you have others to share, I love finding great new swimming spots. Shoot me an email!
Swimming holes in the woods off the Greenbelt:
You’ll need to check water levels first to see if these places are worth hiking in to. Then, depending on the trail you start on, you could have a decent hike to get to them. Bring a snack, or find good biking trails to get to them quicker
1) Sculpture Falls
2) Twin Falls
3) Campbell’s Hole: Water quality is not great here as the hole is somewhat stagnant. Water quality updates may be posted by the city. This hole is best when water levels are high and flow is strong. Avoid if water is low.
4) Gus Fruh Pond
Other good options in the city:
5) Barton Springs. The famous Barton Springs. This is a spring-fed swimming pool. The water is a constant 68 degrees. It can get crowded as it is very popular. The front entrance is closer to a park and some food options. The rear entrance is considered a little less developed. There is a great sloping lawn on the rear side to sit on and watch the action. Hike the rocks toward the rear right side of the pool to get to a sloping shallow area for little kids. Nice thing about Barton Springs is the active community here. You’ll often hear the light beat of drums, some guitar playing, and see people doing yoga. Walking trails available from both front and rear entrances.
6) Deep Eddy Pool. Also spring fed and a constant 68 degrees, but built more like a typical municipal swimming pool. There is a shallow area for kids, and lanes for swimming. There is also a sloping lawn to camp out on. The entrance fee is a bargain for spending a morning here near the lake. Walking trails are right there as well to have a nice walk around the lake then relax and swim at the pool. Don’t forget the hidden Juice Shack up the alley from the pool driveway.
7) Stacy Pool. A heated spring-fed pool run by the city. Nice that it is less chlorinated than the other municipal pools, but it gets crowded and its mostly just for lap swimmers.
Outside the city:
8) Krause Springs. A very nice spot. The swimming may be better here than at Hamilton’s Pool, although it is a small swimming hole. Steep somewhat long setof stairs to get to the hole. The springs are surrounded by slippery rocks. Not a great place to bring small children.
9) Hamilton Pool. About a 30 minute drive outside of Austin if there is no traffic. Expect a rigorous hike of about a mile up and down the trail once you park to get to the pool. Very beautiful to see, even if you don’t swim. It’s a natural rock formation with a little lagoon and a (sometimes) waterfall. The drive is pretty once you get on Hamilton Pool Rd. Call ahead to check water conditions and to see if the park is even open before you drive there, as very often there is not enough flow or bacteria levels are too high to allow swimming. Probably best to save this one for when rivers are flowing high.
10) Blue Hole, Wimberley
11) Reimer’s Ranch. Formerly a private ranch, also off of Hamilton Pool Rd., it is now an official park. Once you pay to get into any of the area parks you have free access to the others for the day. The entrance to Reimer’s is just down the road from Hamilton Pool, but it is still a long drive once you turn in to the Ranch entrance off the road. The nice thing about Reimer’s is it offers access to the Pedernales River (I think there is a trail from Hamilton Pool that does as well, but I haven’t hiked it). The Pedernales is a classic Texas, slow, shallow, winding river. The temperature is always comfortable. It is exposed to the sun, so bring your own shade if you plan to spend half a day, or at least hats and sunglasses. River shoes are a good thing too, as the bottom can have some sharp rocks. The swimming is nice here, and the scenery is beautiful.
12) Lake Travis. I love swimming at Lake Travis. The vistas are beautiful, the water is clean and a nice temperature, and it’s a short drive from Austin. The downside is that it’s hard to find a nice beach, access is less convenient when water levels are low, and there is little shade along the waterfront. The lake is popular so it’s hard to find a nice spot that isn’t crowded unless you go on off-peak days. Although there are parks all around the lake, I recommend the North Shore, as it’s closer to Austin and a little more rural. Windy Point offers decent swimming access off stepped rocks. There are many good spots to eat and party around the lake after a day swimming or boating.