A rustic, natural swimming hole with perennially cool water, Blue Hole has been a favorite summertime destination for Central Texas residents for nearly 100 years. Just minutes from the small-town cheer of Wimberley, Blue Hole still evokes a sense of a bygone era, the pastoral charm of whiling away lazy days at a rural watering hole – although recent additions assure that modern conveniences and amenities are never far away. With a mission of blending preservation with recreation, the City of Wimberley bought 126 acres of an old sweet potato field around the swimming area in order to save the land from a housing development and build a multi-use regional park. With construction beginning in 2010, the facilities still feel new and include a playground, basketball courts, soccer fields, a sand volleyball court, amphitheater and a couple of trails, with plans to add tennis courts and limited primitive camping still in the works.
Located just under an hour’s drive southwest of Austin, Blue Hole is ideal for a day trip into the Hill Country. The park is open year round, though the swimming area is only open during the summer, typically from May through September, with operation hours of 10-6 everyday except Saturday when it stays open until 8. The swimming area also charges an entrance fee: $4 for ages 4-12 and 60+, and $8 for ages 13-59. The park does not allow dogs, alcohol or glass bottles.
The biggest draw of the park is its namesake swimming hole. Surrounded by a heavy thicket of bald cypress trees, the spring-fed creek remains surprisingly shaded and cool and full of water throughout the year. A handful of rope swings in the trees allow for plenty of hijinks, although reaching them may prove difficult for younger swimmers. The new facilities at the park were designed to be out of sight from the swimming area in order to preserve the old-time feeling, an experience helped along by the sometimes alarming presence of algae-covered roots and rocks within the water, as well as fish and other critters that may try to join in on the fun. Because of its popularity and relatively small swimming space – one bank of Blue Hole is actually still privately owned and therefore off-limits to swimmers – it doesn’t take long for crowds to form, especially on weekends and afternoons. Arriving early is always a good plan.
The new additions to Blue Hole provide a place for area residents and visitors to play several different sports, including soccer, sand volleyball and basketball. Ample open parkland allows for a variety of other sports and activities to be enjoyed as well.
New features of the park included a couple of short pedestrian trails and a hike and bike trail. The pedestrian trails are pleasant and pretty, but are more appropriate for casual walking than any sort of strenuous hike. The hike and bike trail is slightly more rugged, but well-marked with signs about upcoming curves and probably not the most fun for the experienced mountain biker. The park and trails are less shaded than the swimming area, so make sure to bring sunscreen and plenty of water.