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You can now swim in Hamilton Pool again. Here's how.

 A photo shows a waterfall coming down into Hamilton Pool Road.
sbmeaper1 via Flickr
Hamilton Pool Preserve is open daily and requires reservations to visit.

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Rejoice for one more place to cool off this summer.

Hamilton Pool Preserve, the popular hiking and swimming destination near Dripping Springs, recently reopened access to a portion of its swimming hole. The entire pool closed in May due to high bacteria levels, but water quality has since improved. Now, about a quarter of the 60-foot pool is currently open for swimming.

The rest of the swimming hole — primarily the area beneath the cliffs — remains closed due to possible hazards from falling rocks. Park officials are consulting with geologists to address the concern. Until then, swimmers can enjoy the 81-degree water in an area near the beach side of the pool.

Hamilton Pool, notable for its massive limestone overhangs and 50-foot waterfall, exists in a collapsed grotto created by more than 100,000 years of erosion. The pool and surrounding parkland are part of the Balcones Canyonlands Preserve, a federally protected area that covers more than33,000 acres of natural habitat in the Texas Hill Country. The preserve is home to eight endangered species including the golden-cheeked warbler.

While the Hamilton Pool Preserve is open year-round for hiking, picnicking and educational programming, the pool itself is only open as nature permits.

"We consider ourselves a nature preserve first and we allow recreational swimming when bacterial levels allow," said Michael Brewster, a Travis County parks supervisor. Environmental factors such as rainfall and E. coli from wildlife contribute to the water conditions, which are monitored and updated daily by park officials. Conditions are posted on the park website and shared on the public information line at 512-264-2740.

Hamilton Pool Preserve is open daily and requires reservations to visit. Keep in mind, that reservations do not guarantee a chance to swim — that's up to Mother Nature. Brewster says reservations are booked mostly through August and get snatched up quickly. But, you can reserve your spot up to six months in advance online.

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