We’re half way through summer in Central Texas and some schools are back in session but it’s still 100+ degrees everyday. How do we stay cool in the heat? By jumping in a pool of course! Hamilton Pool is one of Texas’s most beautiful pools. And what deliciously goes with a Texas road trip? BBQ of course! This trip’s menu came from Salt Lick BBQ on Driftwood.
Let’s go back to mid-May when we decided to try to book a reservation. Everything for the first two months had already been booked. So looking at our calendars we finally settled on a Sunday morning for July 9th.
I definitely recommend making a reservation as soon as they open in May. There are two options 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM and 2:00 PM to 6:00 PM. Reservations are $10 per car and up to eight people in one car. Additional cars require a separate reservation. There is also a $15 entrance fee when you arrive, so total $26 with a $1 credit card service fee.
Now for our adventure! We started on a super early Sunday Morning. I thought we had to get there slightly early so we left Cedar Park around 7:30 AM. Made two stops. H-E-B was our first stop for extra water bottles and snacks. Second stop, picking up our friend, Jacob, close to The Domain area. GPS said we had about a 45 minute drive. Half awake, we set out on the beautiful hill country drive.
I lost count of the number of wineries we passed. Just about as many wineries as cows. A few car-karaoke sing-a-longs and catching up on life chatting and we arrived early. Just about 15 minutes early, but still a little too early. We were actually told they can’t let anyone into the park until 9AM and directed us to Reimers Ranch Park down the road.
Another couple of sing-a-longs and we were in the gate. A short drive down and we paid at a booth where they told us the best news; “swimming is allowed today.” The parking lot is super tiny but once you’re at the beach area of the pool you understand why it’s so limited. There’s about a quarter mile hike along a beautiful rocky and step filled trail. People carrying heavy items like ice chests kept stopping for breaks every few steps. So try to pack lightly.
The hike is short and so worth it because you’ve seen pictures but it’s even more breathtaking in person. Since half of the pool is in the cave area, there’s plenty of shade. The beach area is super tiny so we didn’t even lay out towel, just piled our backpacks close to a tree, snapped a selfie and ran in.
It was about 9:15 am so the water was pretty cool but the sun was coming out and warming up the half that’s not in the cave. We took some noodle to float on but I’m not a strong swimmer and felt like I’d get tired easily. Thank goodness they have life jackets now! Strapped one on and had so much fun just floating and lounging around without any effort.
Our friend Jacob had us try a swim/float across the pool with the most amazing, magical view I’ve ever experienced. While you’re there, look up and you’ll notice moss and trees growing at the top of the cave area. You’ll also see small water falls staggered along the edge. Now swim on your back, between some of the breaks from waterfalls and gaze up to this amazing sight of the water fall droplets coming down in your peripheral. Absolutely gorgeous!
Since it wasn’t too far and on our way back to Austin, we had to stop for lunch at the original Salt Lick Barbecue in Driftwood. You know a Texas road trip adventure and barbecue go hand-in-hand! Since we left Hamilton Pool by 1pm, I think we arrived at Salt Lick around 1:30pm. Which happened to be perfect timing for a Sunday. We were seated right away. Most of the restaurant was full, but not completely packed with a waiting list.
Since this location is cash only (with ATMs inside) and B.Y.O.B., I brought a few of my favorite Mighty Swells.
Kyle and I ended up splitting a “The Rancher, a sampling of Brisket, Pork Ribs, Sausage, and Turkey.” We wanted to have room for dessert, and the plate is “served with potato salad, cole slaw & beans. Bread, pickles & onions on request.” Now that’s a heavy and so scrumptious plate!
Don’t skip their desserts. Sinfully good, cobblers and pecan pies. The chocolate pecan pie is my favorite. Just right for a food coma ride home.