A Texas road trip – Hamilton Pool, Jacob’s Well, Big Bend & Austin

Top of Lost Mine Trail, Big Bend
This was my first time visiting the lone star state and with a bachelor party over Halloween weekend, I decided to head out a week early to check out the sites before meeting up with the rest of the gang in Austin. I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to see while I was there aside from Hamilton Pool and Big Bend National Park, but knew I could add to that list pretty quickly. I booked my flight Saturday night, arrived 24 hours later, got a hotel in Austin and called it a night.

Trip Itinerary

  • Austin
  • Hamilton Pool
  • Jacob’s Well
  • Del Rio
  • Big Bend
  • Ozona
  • Lake Travis
  • Bull Creek
  • Austin

Perspective Pool – “Good morning Dan! It’s Bill from nissan, the service on your car is complete and your total is $1,702.98 ” “Good morning to you too Bill, can I get a cup of coffee with that kick in the balls ? ” Not such a happy camper I head to Hamilton pool and as I sit down trying to enjoy this view I get some beef jerky stuck in my teeth. Getting more aggregated doing everything I can to remove this dead animal from my teeth I thought, “wait a tick, there was a time when I was 22 and I didn’t have all my teeth, and the ones I did have were held in by braces. I should be ecstatic that I have teeth for food to get stuck in ! ” If your biggest worry is money, life ain’t so bad. Enjoy your new home my little beef jerky friend . #texas #travel #hamiltonpool #adventure #waterfall #life

A photo posted by Dan Ramos (@danramosd) on

Waking up by sunrise that Monday I knocked out some work and drove out to Hamilton Pool only about 30 mins from downtown Austin.  $15 and a quick 10 min walk/hike later I arrived at the pool and it was every bit as beautiful as the pictures I’ve seen online.  Visiting right after a tropical depression the day before, the water was a little murky but the weather couldn’t have been any better. After throwing down some lunch by the pool, I pulled a 180 where I hiked for the next 25 mins or so down the river trail.  This trail followed a stream which lead to a much larger river (of which I can’t remember the name).  Although the scenery along the hike was nice, it wasn’t anything I would put on my bucket list. From Hamilton Pool, I hopped back in my rental car and headed off to Jacob’s Well.  Roughly 20 mins from Hamilton Pool, Jacob’s well is a 137 ft well in a relatively calm and shallow creek.  From what I can tell, Jacob’s Well is known for being a great swimming hole in the summer time and makes for a fun spot to cliff dive.  However, the last week in October proves to be a relatively quiet time for the area.  Long story short, the well sounded a lot cooler in theory than it did in person.  Once you get there, you’ll see a deep well, in a shallow creek, and that’s about it.  Next!
Texas sunset

Texas sunset

Drive to Big Bend

The trek from Austin to Big Bend is just over 7 hours.  Wanting to get a good night sleep, I crashed at one of the last big cities along the way in Del Rio.  I woke up before sunrise again and finished the 3hr drive to Big Bend.  I didn’t quite have an idea of what I wanted to see while I was there, so when I entered the park I popped into the visitors center and they were more than happy to help me pick out a few locations to hike.  Armed with a park map, I drove for another 35 mins where I stopped at Lost Mine Trail for my first hike of the day.  
Yeah, a little sweaty

Yeah, a little sweaty

Hiking Lost Mine Trail

Just under 6 miles and 2.5 hours round trip, this trail provided jaw dropping 360 degree views.  Having just been to Zion about a month ago I felt as if the terrain reminded me of a less intense Angels Landing, but just as impressive of views.  Overall the hike was a relatively easy dirt and rock path with no scrambling involved.

Camping Big Bend (but not really)

It was shortly after lunch when I wrapped up Lost Mine Trail and needed a place to crash for the night.  Learning a lot from my failed attempt at camping in Tahoe, I drove on down to Rio Grande village to set up camp for the night, this time with plenty of daylight.  I set up my tent, paid the $14 camping fee and was ready for the night but needed something to occupy my time until night fall. Walking around the campground I stumbled across the Rio Grand nature trail, a short and simple 1.5 mile round trip hike.  This hike brought you to the top of a small mountain with a panoramic view of Mexico and the Rio Grand River.  As I sat at the top of the mountain taking everything in the time was just shy of 6PM.  Riding solo and having absolutely no cell phone service, I was trying to think of what I would do the rest of the night.  The more and more I thought about this, I realized the solidarity had gotten to me.  Now I have no problem with traveling solo, camping solo, hiking solo, flying solo or road tripping solo, but when you take away my cellular service on top of having no one to camp with is when I go stir crazy.  It was at this point I headed back to camp, took down my tent and departed Big Bend.  Whomp whomp 🙁 After bringing all my fresh camping gear with me I was a little bummed I didn’t camp out for the night, but hey, I learned something about myself.  I know what my current limit is in terms of solo travel and maybe I’m a little too reliant on technology.  It’s small lessons like these that I learn ever time I go on an adventure.

Lake Travis

As I hit the road in the direction of Austin I made it to Ozona which is a small town in the middle of Texas.  I have nothing to write about this small town other than they have a gas station and a hotel.
Oasis on Lake Travis

Oasis on Lake Travis

One more night before the guys came into town I met up with my friend Jessica at Travis Lake.  Once again, not knowing much about this place, I was delightfully surprised with what it had to offer.  The first real city I had seen in my 7.5 hr road trip, this place was beautiful.  The lake is surrounded by new construction of some of the largest mansions I’ve seen in awhile.  We stayed at the Lakeway Resort and Spa, a relaxing place with a balcony view right on the water.  The both of us drove a substantial amount that morning, so we called it an early night excited about exploring the next day. The next morning we headed over to the Oasis restaurant located at the east end of Lake Travis.  A perfect 72 degrees without a cloud in the sky, not much was said that morning during brunch as we sat their overlooking the deep blue lake that’s hard to put into words.

Such clear water at Bull Creek

Such clear water at Bull Creek

Bull Creek

It’s the little 1-off adventures inside the big trips that always seem to stand out.  There was just a couple hours of time to kill between brunch and meeting the rest of the guys in Austin, so I stumbled across Bull Creek online and headed on over.  To be quite honest, there was nothing too overly impressive about Bull Creek, but the vibe in general was quite tranquil.  We dropped the car off at the south end of Bull Creek near a park and started a short hike upstream.  The water was crystal clear, never getting much deeper than just above your knee and had a few small waterfalls.  20 minutes later we came across one of the larger waterfalls just south of a bridge with a perfect amount of sun exposure.  Being an avid nap fan, it didn’t take my long to drop my backpack on a boulder to catch some mid day zzz’s.

Austin – Bachelor Party and Halloween

Well as you would expect with 14 guys in Austin for a bachelor party and halloween things got a little wild.  There’s not a whole lot to write about the trip, as you would expect we spent a lot of the time at the bars and any stories that perspired from there are better left untold.  Austin is definitely a party city shutting down 6th street (their main drag) down Thursday-Saturday night.  There are a lot of places we stopped at but the two that stood out the most are Blind Pig and Jackalope.
The Joker

The Joker

We hit up Jackalope the first night for dinner where I’m pretty sure everyone ordered a burger.  Considering myself a burger connoisseur, I can absolutely say this had to have been one of the top five I’ve ever had which says a lot (the BBB’Burger from Slaters 50/50 in San Diego is #1).  Despite having an endless number of bars to try out we spent a majority of our time on the rooftop of Blind Pig.  Good crowd, cheap beers, attractive women and overlooking all of the madness on 6th street, what else could you want?

Final Thoughts

Not even knowing what Big Bend was weeks before this trip made visiting it all that much better. After all my travels this year, this was the first one where I attempted to take a legitimate camera (Sony DSLR-A100) and try my hand at photography.  I got some pretty nice shots along the way, but the more pictures I took the more I realized I had no idea what I was doing.  I’m excited to pick up photography as a hobby and hope as my skills increase I’ll be able to portray my travels in a better picture (pun intended).