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Austin's Best Natural Swimming Holes

Ivan Collins Last updated on Feb 13, 2023 by

Austin is a city that is often taken for granted. The Capital of Texas, its name is well-known but not everybody knows about everything it has to offer. Escaping to some of the local swimming holes can be the perfect solution to a blistering hot Saturday or Sunday afternoon. Below we'll highlight 5 of the Austin's best swimming holes located in the city limits and nearby.

Sculpture and Twin Falls

Sculpture Falls

Accessed from a Mopac (aka Loop 1) access road just south of Hwy 360, Sculpture and Twin Falls are a little more obscure than more tourist friendly places like Barton Springs. The falls themselves are usually pretty full of people, especially on the weekends. But there are other areas along the trails that you can hike to to find a more private location.  The trick to making these spots work is knowing if there is water flowing. You can view a flow gauge here. Even low numbers like 10-20 cfs (cubic feet per second) is enough to fill the pools.

The Flats on Barton Creek Greenbelt

The Flats at Barton Creek

Another great spot along Barton Creek that you access by taking Barton Skyway from Mopac East a short block until it intersects with Spyglass Drive. The Flats offer easier access than Sculpture and Twin Falls because it's a short walk to the main lounging area. This will lead to more people and this place is frequently covered in a Keep Austin Weird sort of vibe with coolers, dogs running wild, and even a impromptu drum circle from time to time. Here's a link to more info about Barton Creek Greenbelt.

McKinney Falls
McKinney Falls

A little less know to Austin locals than the options above, McKinney Falls State Park is located in the Southeast corner or Austin. There's a fee to enter and two different water holes that people love to swim. There are campers around and when water is flowing this is a fun area to check out for it's cool rock formations.

Barton Springs Pool
Barton Springs Pool

Barton Springs Pool is a three-acre pool filled by underground springs. The pool maintains a temperature of approximately 60 degrees Fahrenheit year-round and is the perfect place to cool off after a walk on the Lady Bird Lake Hike and Bike Trail. Bring a picnic and spend the day, all for less than the price of a meal.  Check out our full write up on Barton Springs Pool here.

Hamilton Pool
Hamilton Pool

Just outside of Austin is another favorite, Hamilton Pool.  A breathtaking swimming hole formed by a collapsed grotto. With a waterfall and rock formations it’s the perfect place to cool off and explore. There is a flat entrance fee per car and reservations need to be made during the summer. If you’re going to be in the Austin area, it’s definitely worth the trip. You can learn more about Hamilton Pool here.

Bonus Attraction
Congress Bridge Bats

Check out the Austin Bats nightly departure from Congress Bridge.  The single biggest attraction in Austin is the Congress Bridge Bats nightly departure.  Every night from March through October approximately 1.5 million bats will emerge from beneath the bridge.  Use this link to learn how to watch the Austin Bats from a kayak or boat and you'll be about 10 degrees cooler than if you watch them from the bridge or nearby.
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