Best Hill Country Swimming Holes near Austin
Our list of swimming holes includes some of the best places in the Hill Country to escape the sweltering Texas heat. We’ve highlighted the locations that frequently appear on the various Top Ten Lists of Swimming Holes that are published from time to time.
Please keep in mind that many of the stream crossings are better suited for play areas (wading, lawn chair immersion, or floating) rather than swimming. That is why, in our descriptions of crossings, we frequently refer to other nearby locations where the conditions may be more favorable for swimming. Also, if you are visiting a private facility, it is always a good idea to contact them ahead of time to get the lowdown on what is and is not permitted on their property.
Swimming holes and crossings should be approached with caution because they can be very slippery and otherwise dangerous. Sorry to sound like your mother, but never dive or jump into the water unless you are certain it is safe.
Spring Lake Falls
221 Sessoms Drive, San Marcos, TX 78666
This is the appealing area where Spring Lake empties into the sparkling San Marcos River, just across the street from TSU. Parking is difficult, and you should avoid parking in the Saltgrass Steak House lot or you will be towed. Parking may be available across the street at the basketball coliseum or over at Sewell Park. Even though parking is limited, this is a lovely place to swim, and don’t be surprised if you see some kids jumping off the dam into the river where the no swimming sign is posted. Also, this area contains far less Texas Wild Rice than nearby Sewell Park, so it may be just the place for you to cool off.
Five Mile Dam
Kyle, TX 78640
Swim, float, or paddle upstream of the dam, or wade or swim horizontally on the rocks downstream. If the locals take care of their dogs, the area below the dam can be a nice low-water area. You’ll understand what we mean. There is a fairly large pool above the dam where you can swim or float around and relax. You should be aware that this area can become dry relatively early in the season, so check with the county parks department during the week to see if water is still flowing over the dam and you can enjoy the downstream play area while you’re here.
From Austin, take the Yarrington Road exit and follow the frontage road until you can turn right onto County Road 140. Follow that until you reach your first right after passing the apartment complex on the left side of the road. After turning right, you will pass under a train trestle and then take your first left, which will lead you to the county park.
East Common Street Crossing
501 Fair Lane, New Braunfels, TX 78731
Just upstream from Common Street on the Guadalupe River in New Braunfels, this crossing has a really nice play area. It’s a great place to swim, ride tubes, or just have fun in the spillway. It’s a good example of an old-fashioned swimming hole that’s open to the public and right in the middle of town. You must enter it through River Acres Park, which is reached by taking Fair Lane south from Common Street. This park is also a good place to bring a picnic lunch to eat after playing in the pool created by the small dam on the river.
1000 Blue Hole Road, Wimberley, TX 78676
It is without a doubt that Blue Hole one of the most beautiful swimming holes in the Hill Country. This land was previously owned by the Dobie family, and it is unsurprisingly on many people’s top ten list of Central Texas swimming holes. If you want to take your guests to a perfect spring-fed creek setting with icy, icy, icy water, this could be the place to go. Suffice it to say, if you haven’t been to all five of the best swimming holes in the Hill Country, you haven’t been to all five. These exhilarating waters and an abundance of shade trees have made this a popular spot for many years.
Take the Old Kyle Road east from “downtown” Wimberley for about a half mile before turning left onto Blue Hole Road, where the church is located. From Memorial Day to Labor Day, the park is open. Arrive early to secure a good spot because this is a popular swimming hole.
City Tube Chute
100 Leibscher Drive, New Braunfels, TX 78130
This is the renowned New Braunfels tube chute, which has provided many hours of entertainment for people trying to beat the hot Texas summers over the years. The City bills it as the world’s longest chute. I’m not sure about that, but it’s a really fun play area and a great place to cool off. After riding down the Chute, walk the tube back up the hill and ride it down again and again. Furthermore, it is a fantastic swimming hole, particularly the section of the crystal clear Comal River between the chute and the small dam located downstream. You should be aware that this location becomes extremely crowded in the afternoon, so go early on weekends or try your luck during the week.
Blanco State Park
101 Park Road 23, Blanco, TX 78606
This is a small but lovely 105-acre state park on the banks of the beautiful Blanco River, right in the heart of Blanco. The river’s bed is limestone, thus the name. This is a fantastic swimming hole to visit to escape the relentless Texas heat, and it is frequently mentioned on top ten lists. One of the main advantages of this location is that it almost always has flowing water, even in the dead of summer. However, you must ensure that the river is flowing over the dam when you visit, or the experience will be diminished.
The park has tube and canoe rentals, and the impoundment is ideal for swimming or floating. The water is too calm for tubing. When the water is high enough, wading is possible downstream. Pets on a leash are permitted, but they are not permitted to enter the water. You can take the dogs swimming in the river just upstream of the park.
404 Krause Springs Road, Spicewood, TX 78669
This absolutely stunning area, located just outside of Driftwood, features a swimming pool at the top of the hill and a legendary spring-fed swimming hole at the bottom of the hill. The 30-foot waterfall over the collapsed grotto adds to the beauty of this scenic site, which also includes cypress trees that are estimated to be nearly 1,000 years old – get out. This area is consistently ranked among the top ten swimming holes, and for good reason.
Be cautious when entering the pool because there is a lot of very slippery algae just under the water level and you could easily fall and bust your behind. This is a great place to go tent camping on top of the hill, primarily because of the pool.
Take Highway 71 from Austin to Driftwood. At the Exxon station, turn right onto 191. Turn right onto CR 404, and the entrance will be on your left.
Spring Branch, TX 78070
When the river is flowing, this parking area just downstream of Specht’s crossing (Spring Branch Road and the Guadalupe River) is a great place to swim. The parking lot and proximity to the cool waters of the Guadalupe River make this a popular swimming hole for locals. It’s also a great place to start or end a kayak trip (5 miles downstream of Guadalupe River State Park and 6 miles upstream of Bigfoot Livery and Campground). The run down to Bigfoot is a nice little paddle trip that Texas Monthly named one of the twenty best in Texas.
Take State Highway 46 east from Bergheim and turn left onto Spring Branch Road. Spring Branch Road will take you to the river, and just after you cross the river, there is a turn off to the right (look for a sign saying Specht’s Crossing or Nichol’s Landing) that will take you down to the water.
2101 Barton Springs Road, Austin, TX 78704
This fantastic spring-fed pool in Austin provides endangered animal habitat and year-round swimming chances for those who don’t mind the chilly waters that remain at around 68 degrees all year. Your first dive into the pool will take your breath away, and it will continue to do so for the rest of the years you visit the pool. This is a stunning urban pool in Zilker Park that is on everyone’s top ten list of swimming holes. One visit to Barton’s and you’ll understand why many people refer to it as Austin’s soul. You are welcome to swim with the salamanders, but please do not harass them as this is a violation of federal law.
Lampasas, TX 76550
This free-flowing artesian spring-fed pool in Lampasas is open from Thursday to Sunday during the summer. The city bills the site as the state’s oldest free flow pool, which is probably correct given that it has been in operation for more than a century. The pool is part of a 109-acre park, and people have long come here to bathe in what is thought to be mineral water with curative properties.
You must strictly obey all traffic signs, and if you are unsure whether parking is legal, do not park there. It’s not fun to be towed in the middle of nowhere. If you plan to use any of these locations as a put-in or take-out point for a kayaking or tubing trip, make sure you will be comfortable leaving your vehicle for the several hours required to complete your journey. It is always a good idea to ask for parking advice from the local visitor center, nearby businesses, and area outfitters. When possible, look for businesses, campgrounds, or parks where you can leave your vehicle while on your trip, even if it means paying a small fee. This will protect you from break-ins and being towed to a friendly storage facility miles away.