The temperatures are getting high, and we are lucky to live in a city overflowing with outdoor activities. Here’s The Daily Texan’s guide to the best swimming holes in and around Austin for some quality chill time as spring unfolds.
The land bridge
The most exhilarating place on the Barton Creek Greenbelt is the land bridge, a stretch of land and water 7.25 miles long. This location is sometimes referred to as “the cliffs” because that’s exactly what it is: three tiers of cliffs adjacent to the water, each one for a different level of thrill-seekers.
You get can there by taking South Lamar Boulevard, turning right on Barton Skyway and taking a left on Rae Dell Avenue. Continue until you reach a cul-de-sac, park and follow the trail until you reach the cliffs. If you get lost, just follow the screams and cheers.
The first tier is about 10 feet high, the second is about 30 and the third is a knee-trembling 50 feet in the air. The third level is not for the faint of heart, seeing as the water has been 7 to 8 feet recently. Practice precaution when jumping off the cliffs, especially if you’re taller, because it’s very easy for your legs to hit the bottom.
On a warm day, you can sunbathe and witness daredevils doing back flips and gainers off of all levels. Be sure to bring minimal belongings, and wear shoes with a lot of traction to make your climb easier.
Hippie Hollow (NSFW)
This location is not for the inhibited. Hippie Hollow is about 20 minutes away from campus on Lake Travis. You can be openly nude from 9 a.m. to dark for $10 per day, plus a $2 surcharge for each vehicle. If you’re liberated or dream of living in a nudist colony someday, Hippie Hollow may be a great kick-start.
This park is located on 109 acres along the rocky shoreline of Lake Travis. Boaters on the lake often drive over to witness the spectacle of nudists absorbing the sunny weather, so don’t go on thinking that this is a private affair; it’s for everyone’s enjoyment.
The hollow is 18 and up, and senior citizens get a discount.
Of course, one of the most popular sites for summer shenanigans is Barton Springs Pool on the Zilker Park grounds, just off of Barton Springs Road. It’s the fourth largest spring in Texas with a length of over 900 feet, and it is 68 degrees throughout the year — that’s colder than you think.
“I like that it’s all natural and the scenery is really cool,” said art history junior Devin Tayne. “It’s always cool and refreshing. I love how there is a diving board. You can only swim for so long, but diving boards keep it fun.”
From 5 a.m. to 10 p.m., $3 gets you access to a sprawling lawn to lie out on and a pool of water that seems too clean to be natural.
“The water is 15 feet at the deepest, so me and my friend practice diving there,” said microbiology junior Johnny Bender. It’s fun to swim around the seaweed.”
This area of the Greenbelt is a truly remarkable gift of nature. The flowing water has carved the limestone into individual bathtubs that you can sit in if the water is low enough. Where the water is higher, there is a drop off that you can jump off of and a rope swing for added fun.
Get there by taking Capital of Texas Highway to Scottish Woods Trail. Once you get to a “T” in the road, find somewhere to park in the residential area and hike the rest of the way. Be sure to prepare for the hike back up before getting too exhausted from being in the sun all day.
Julie Welch, a graphic design junior at St. Edward’s University who wrote her final field guide (similar to a senior thesis) on swimming holes this year, said that Sculpture Falls is her favorite destination.
“It’s free. You can bring your dog. There are a lot of hiking trails nearby and you can follow the path to other Greenbelt locations,” Welch said.
If you’re up for the drive, take a trip to Dripping Springs to visit Hamilton Pool. Take 71 west, turn left on FM 3238 Hamilton Pool Road and after about 13 miles, the pool will be on your right. The park is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and costs $10 per vehicle.
An entire side of the pool is a giant 50-foot limestone waterfall that never stops flowing, slowing down to a trickle during times of drought. You can climb up on the rocks to seek shade from the sun or enjoy a quarter-mile trail that connects to the pool.
“It’s cool because it’s really remote and exclusive,” Welch said. “If you have the time to go, it’s nice to get a little outside of Austin for a bit. There are some downfalls: You can’t bring your dog and you have to pay per car, so you should carpool.”
So get out there and take advantage of our Texas limestone and the beautiful weather that Austin has been having. Who says it’s not summer yet?