In: Outdoors1 Sep 2012
(map) Even when it’s beastly-hot outside, it’s (fairly) cool in this cave. Although this was the first nature preserve in Austin, it’s still a well-kept secret. Perhaps it’s because you need a guide to get to the actual cave and lush limestone grotto. A 40-foot waterfall drops between ever-growing travertine columns into a green pool filled with fish. Pointing out native flowers along the way, the guide takes you up a trail behind the columns and the water for a spectacular view. Tours are given on weekends only, at 10, 12 and 2, and cost $5.
Looking toward the back of one of the travertine “columns” formed by stalactites and stalagmites joining over thousands of years.
Part of the fern-ringed grotto. They estimate the cypress tree on the right is 600 years old, and believe people first inhabited the area 13,000 years ago.
Hiking up the trail that goes behind the waterfall. Most of the trail is pretty easy, but there are some steep, rocky parts.
This platform along the trail offers a view of the Pedernales. You can hear the river rushing as you hike the trail. Hamilton Pool is just across the way.
This contemporary building houses exhibits and displays about the history, geography and plants of the area. On the floor is an analemma, a figure 8 that uses the sun’s movement to accurately tell time, a technique dating back to the 1600s.