Tag Archives: Pool

Barton Springs is Austin’s Summer Swimming Hub

I wrote this article for St. Edward’s University’s student-run paper,
the
Hilltop Views.

Summer is upon us, and with it come the soaring Texas temperatures. To escape the heat in the next few months, many Austin locals will venture off to everyone’s favorite summer spot—Barton Springs.

Barton Springs, a set of four natural water springs located on the grounds of Zilker Park, is the result of the cool waters flowing through the Edwards Aquifer.  The spring’s chilly waters and natural ambiance has made it a year-round swimming destination for Austin locals.

Infamous for its nippy waters, Barton Springs attracts crowds of people looking for an escape from the sweltering summer heat.


Dr. Shirley, professor of Religious Studies, says he has always enjoyed Barton Springs, “[The spring] has a lot more character than the pool at the gym, plus you get some sun.”

Shirley says, however, Barton Springs is not your conventional swimming hole. “It really isn’t so much for swimming laps as for the ambiance. There used to be a rock—that I think was called the ‘Philosopher’s Rock’—where some of the local educational elite used to sit and chat.  There’s also a statue just outside of the pool area, near the parking lot, commemorating some of the more famous local intelligentsia.”

Kate Rosati, administrative coordinator of the Center of Ethics and Leadership, likes to visit the springs with friends on warm summer days. “My girlfriends and I will lie out on our towels on the hill, heat up until we can’t take it anymore and then jump in.”

However, Rosati says the only thing better than taking a dive into the cool waters is getting back out, “The best part is getting out of the freezing cold water and realizing that the sweltering heat suddenly just feels warm and cozy.”

Dr. Jodi Egerton, assistant professor of English Writing and Rhetoric, shares Rosati’s enthusiasm for taking to Barton Springs for a quick dip on a hot day. “On a perfect dreamy day, we like to sit on the far side on the big grassy hill. Bring along some books, a towel to lie on, lots of sunscreen and a hat. Lie around reading until you’re just so hot you can’t stand it, and then go cool off in the water for a while.”

Egerton’s says her husband, former Humanities adjunct instructor Owen Egerton, loves Barton Springs.  “[Owen] loves to go early in the morning and swim at the break of dawn. He goes every year on his birthday to swim if we’re in town. He’s originally from Wales, and he learned to swim in icy Welsh lakes, so he has absolutely no issues with the cold [water].”

Barton Springs Pool, a man-made swimming pool, is located on the grounds of Zilker Park. The pool sits within the Barton Creek channel and is filled by water from Main Barton Spring.  The pool’s temperature, which remains between about 68°F and 72°F, allows for year-round swimming.

Shirley admits that he enjoys being around the pool more than he enjoys being in the pool. “I have fun wandering the area outside the actual pool area:  the play area, with all the kids’ equipment, and on the other side of the springs.”  He says he also enjoys exploring all of the interesting concrete and stone structures surround the pool.

No matter your reasons for going—be it to escape the heat, read a book, or explore new things—hitting up Barton Springs will be the coolest thing you do all summer.

Barton Springs Pool Fees

Weekdays Weekends Summer Pass (Memorial Day through Labor Day)
Senior $1 $1 $60.00
Adult $3.00 $3.00 $180.00
Junior (12-17) $2.00 $2.00 $120.00
Child (11- under) $1.00 $1.00 $60.00
Family of 4 n/a n/a $350.00 (additional family members are required to purchase the individual pass for their age group
Parking fee at Zilker n/a $3.00 (March through September)

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Hamilton Pool Natural Preserve

This article was originally written for the Hilltop Views.

Austin has plenty of places for those who love to get their adrenaline pumping and hearts racing. However, there are also plenty of popular hiking trails that locals take advantage of in order to enjoy the more mellow, scenic side of this sunny city.

Hiking offers individuals a chance to immerse themselves in nature. There are several places in and around Austin that offer a variety of hikes for everyone, from the extempore explorer to the trained trekker. There are newer, urban hike routes in Dick Nichols Park in Austin; wooded, rugged trails at Buescher State Park in Smithville; and more elevated, strenuous hikes and climbs at Enchanted Rock, located about seventeen miles north of Fredericksburg.

Professor Jodi Egerton often goes on hikes with her family on greenbelt trails in Austin. Egerton says that she and her family go hiking when “everyone’s going crazy in the house and just want to get out.” Egerton says that she and husband Owen Egerton tell their daughter that they are about to go on “an adventure” and then make their way down the trails and to the lakes to relax and occasionally enjoy a lunch.

Several people have turned this outdoor hobby into a passion. Professor Edward Shirley is one such person, saying, “For years (and years, and years), I’ve loved to hike or backpack. I’ve hiked or backpacked in many state or national parks, including Yosemite, Big Bend and I even climbed Pike’s Peak.”

Professor Shirley also recommends several local Austin hiking trails, “Since I don’t drive, much of my hiking is in Austin.  The Bull Creek Trail is nice, as is St. Edward’s Park on Spicewood Springs Road.  I love the Barton Creek Greenbelt and have done the whole thing, round trip.”

Hamilton Pool Natural Preserve, part of the Balcones Canyonlands Preserve, is another spot where popular hiking trails can be found. The preserve is roughly thirty miles southwest of Austin, near Bee Cave. The heavily wooded trails lead to and loop around Hamilton Pool, a natural basin created when the dome of an underground river collapsed due to massive erosion thousands of years ago.

This breathtaking excursion leads hikers down a ½ mile hike to the pool, conveniently beginning at the parking lot. The downhill trail makes its way through lush plant life and jutted rock formations and follows sleepy, serene Hamilton Creek. The right fork of the trail junction, located near the creek, leads upstream to Hamilton Pool and the 50-foot waterfall, while the left fork, called Canyon Trail, leads ¾ mile downstream to where Hamilton Creek converges with the Pedernales River.

Once to the pool, hikers can appreciate the remarkable beauty of the Hamilton Falls, climb the protruding limestone formations, observe the dynamic wildlife, and even take a dip in the Hamilton Pool.

The Hamilton Pool hiking trail is wonderful for both beginning and intermediate hikers who want a change of scenery. The trails are just far and rigorous enough for a solid workout, but are not overly demanding on the hiker.

When asked why he hikes, Shirley answered, “I began because it was fun, [a source of] exercise, and a time of solitude.  I continue to enjoy hiking alone.  I also like to go with groups who really want to hike.  Why? Because it’s fun, and because it is community building.  And I hiked post-stroke because I could.  And now, I hike again because it’s fun.”

Contact Information

Hamilton Pool Trail
Open 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. daily, weather permitting
(512) 264-2740
Vehicle entry permit (all day) $8
Pedestrian/bicyclist entry permit (all
day): $3

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