As you might have noticed, this summer we are running a few new regular features. On Wednesdays, we’re writing about taking on the city as tourists — even though we live here. So, we might write about packing up the family to check out a swimming hole, taking part in a tour or checking out a nearby resort for a staycation. Here’s to a summer full of exploring the best city around!
We were so lucky for so long this summer, but we have now officially descended into the It’s $*@# Hot part of the year.
Although many of us have already sought refuge in our neighborhood pools and splash pads, more and more I’m hearing from friends that they have crammed kids and gear into the car, only to find outings are curtailed or derailed because of chlorine problems, pumps not working and other issues. So, I’d like to suggest an alternative: Krause Springs.
Krause Springs is one of those places I forget about, partly because it involves a longer drive and slightly more planning. Located about 30 miles west of Austin, Krause is privately owned and serves as not only a swimming hole, but a primitive camping site and a place you can hook up your RV. By no means is it a best-kept secret, and it may not be for everyone, but it’s a great way to spend an afternoon or even a day trip. If you do plan to visit, you’ll need to leave your pets and glass containers at home.
When you arrive, you head through the gate to pay (cash only), and although you might not notice it, there is a butterfly garden on your right. In the spirit of taking it all in, we spent a good 15 minutes exploring all the different parts of the garden and fountains.
Soon afterwards, we headed to our left down to the Springs. There are picnic areas up here and a pool. Depending on when you go, the pool might be pretty crowded, but I guess kids always feel a draw to a pool-like environment where they can see the bottom and the depth is pretty uniform.
Right past the pool, you will see the Springs below, and the way to get down, which is part of why some folks don’t like Krause Springs. There are two ways down, but both are pretty rickety staircases that can be hard to navigate with small children and lots of accoutrements (which is one reason why, if you are picnicking, you may prefer to leave coolers on a table near the top). Once you make it down the steps, you can find a place to put your things on the rocks.
You can enter from various points, but you will soon see that many people get in the Springs at the end near where you walked down. Entry can be very slippery at points, so if your kids have them, you can bring them in water shoes, have them slide on their bottoms or try to get in sloooowly. Noodles and floats are good ideas for kids who aren’t totally independent in the water, since you can’t see the bottom and the depth can change dramatically in a short distance.
Since Krause is spring-fed, the water is really refreshing, without being bone-chilling as Barton Springs sometimes feels. You’ll notice a cave-like opening on the incline where you took a trip down to the springs, and it’s cool to swim inside and feel the waterfall drip on you (the term “waterfall” might be a little generous, but this is Texas, after all!) There is also a place where (older) kids climb up and jump off, which is one of those things you probably did as a kid but are now horrified as a parent to see.
We spent quite a bit of time exploring back into the shady trails beyond the main swimming hole. We looked for fish, found a “secret” waterfall, squished our feet in the mud and found our way all the back to some parking lot (which I’m guessing is part of the camping area). After a snack and another dip in the main swimming hole, we called it a day and came back home, refreshed from the experience for the rest of the day.
Have you ever been to Krause Springs? What’s your family’s favorite swimming hole?
[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://www.livemom.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Nicole-Basham-Sara-Marzani-Photography-livemom.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]A native Austinite and soccer-playing mom, Nicole uses her newly-minted-7-year-old son as an excuse to rediscover her hometown through his eyes. In Thoreau’s words, her mission is to “suck out all the marrow of life”, or in her son’s words, to cultivate in him a love of “advenchers”.[/author_info] [/author]