The preserve is open all week, but guided tours are only open to the public on the weekends. There are tours during the week, but they are by reservation only, and for groups. We made the drive up this past Saturday. It’s about an hour and half north of San Antonio, but only about a half hour west of Austin. The tours are guided to try to minimize the damage and exposure to the site. Much like the Hamilton Pool, this was a popular place in the 60’s for people to swim at. When the property was bought in the 70’s and clean up started, the area around the pool was trashed, which led to today’s rules.
When you enter the Preserve, there is a large building that house’s a learning center. There are small exhibits of things found on the property, like animal skulls and snakeskins. The kids had a great time looking at everything while we waited for our tour. You are also free to walk the trails of the uplands. They are kinda boring this time of year, but we did see a deer. I’m guessing it’s gorgeous in the spring when all the wildflowers are blooming though.
Our tour was led by Erich, who was nice and knowledgeable. We started off down a trail and stopped at various points for him to point things out or tell us the history of the area. We stopped at an overlook that was just one, big, gorgeous view.
The end of the trail was the grotto. A deep pool, surrounded on one side by a rocky cliff and a small waterfall coming down, it was well worth the hike. Our guide pointed things out there, like the 400 year old cypress tree, then took us up behind the waterfall. We then went back down and up into a cave. The West Cave. It was big enough for all of the 30 or so in our group to comfortably stand.
We were on our own then. We could head back, explore the cave, the area behind the waterfall, or whatever. It was a pretty easy hike. It’s about a mile round trip. The kids did it with no issues. There is a fee for the tour, but again, worth it. The tours are on a first come, first serve basis, so make sure to get there early.