Hamilton Pool at Travis County Park

Austin, TX, May 2015

We visit Austin, TX for a wedding and a bit of climbing.

Day 1: Planes, Trains and Automobiles

We woke up early Friday morning to catch a flight from Newark, NJ to Austin, TX to attend a wedding. We decided to stay an extra day so we could visit some of the local crags and pig out on barbecue.

Transferring at Penn Station to NJ Transit

Austin was warm and sunny when we arrived. It was a nice change from the cold weather we were experiencing back in NYC.

Buildering at the Austin International Airport

One thing that bit us in the ass is that Austin is not the small, walkable town that we imagined. You really need a car to get around. So, we rushed over to Enterprise and rented a car for the weekend. Austin is rapidly growing city and it has the traffic to prove it. I don’t know how true this but our friend told us the 8 people move to Austin everyday.

Austin Rock Gym South

The first thing we did was drive to the Austin Rock Gym South to rent a crash pad and get some local beta. The guy at the front desk was really helpful and friendly. He recommended that we try bouldering at McKinney Falls since it was fairly close and we were strapped for time.

And just to show you how nice he was. They had just run out of rental agreement forms and the printer was broken so he hand wrote one for us.

With a plan in hand we decided to go eat some barbecue. We attempted to meet our friends at La Barbeque but failed and ended up arriving fairly late in the day. It was almost empty when we arrived so we were not optimistic about how much barbecue would be left.

But it turned out to be a blessing in disguise. When we got to the counter someone had just cancelled a fairly large catering order so we were able to sample just about everything without having to wait at all.

La Barbecue

There’s not much to say other than it was delicious and we would definitely go again if we have the chance. Our personal favorite was the Brisket. And according to Yelp, La Barbecue sources their meat from the same place as another famous Austin barbecue joint, Franklins.

We finally caught up with our friends later in the day for dinner at Torchy’s Tacos. The tacos were a little too big for my taste but pretty good. They have a very creative menu and offer all sorts of flavors.

Torchy’s Tacos

Day 2: Everything All At Once

In hindsight it seems crazy but we decided that we wanted to check out Reimers Ranch, Hamilton Pool and McKinney Falls before the wedding.

Our first stop was to Travis Country Parks to visit Reimers Ranch and the Hamilton Pool Preserve. We left fairly early and traffic was light so it took about 45 minutes to get there.

Limestone cave at Reimers Ranch

Reimers Ranch is a popular climbing destination with beautiful limestone caves. Unfortunately we didn’t have our sport climbing gear with us.

Touching the limestone at Reimers Ranch

After Reimers Ranch we drove to the Hamilton Pool Preserve which is very close by. When we arrived there was already a long line of cars. We were shocked considering how early it was but I guess it’s a very popular weekend destination.

Hamilton Pool is a natural pool nested inside of an impressive dome. There’s a trail that circles the entire pool and you can even go swimming. Wikipedia has a wonderful description of how it was formed if you’re curious.

Watefall at Hamilton Pool
Swimming in the Hamilton Pool

After a nice swim we headed back to Austin to boulder at McKinney Falls. It was tricky getting to the bouldering area. And on top of that the environment was pretty inhospitable. It was hot and humid. There were mosquitos everywhere. We saw a snake in the river and I found spiders living in the holds. Not exactly optimal.

I tried a few problems but I was out of my depth. Everything was either too hard or polished to hell. We decided to leave almost immediately. Maybe two weeks later, one of my friends told me that he heard of someone getting bit by snake while bouldering.


Beta

  • Rent a car. There is more to Austin than just the downtown scene.
  • If you’re a carnivore do not leave Austin without trying some barbecue.
  • Parking at Hamilton Pool is limited and fills up quickly. Get there early in order to snag a parking spot.
  • Watch out for snakes and spiders when bouldering at McKinney Falls in the summer.