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by Ian Kleine

There’s a little corner in Hamilton most folks don’t know which can be considered a tourist hot spot. And why wouldn’t it?

The 230-acre preserve is mainly made up of the pool and grotto, both of which are formed from the collapse of an underground river. The top, where a river was flowing, had suddenly crashed into the hollow created by the river and had formed a mini waterfall that tumbles into the pool that was once the underground river’s reservoir. The waterfall reaches up to 45-feet, a rather stately yet safe height of which it forms a nice facade, especially after a good rain.

The preserve is home to some endemic species, most of which are small fishes, turtles, and marine life. There are two species of plants not found anywhere else though, the chatterbox orchid and the eastern red bay. Be careful not to trample on them, as they are precious to the ecology around this area.

There is a marked hiking trail from the parking area to the creek. The surrounding area is filled with lush scenery and gorgeous trees, some of them reaching their 100th birthday. At the end of each trail leads to a different body of water; one to the swimming hole and the other to the Pedernales river.

The swimming hole is a stunning sight, situated underneath the remains of the roof supporting the once-underground river. It has a nice shade, and the rock outcrops provide a dramatic flair to the swimming hole. The water is always tested, so whether you can swim or not merely depends on chance and the water flowing towards the hole.

A word of warning though. Pets are disallowed. They might disrupt the ecological balance of the area. As much as possible, leave your pets at home or in the hands of a capable pet sitter.

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