The city of Austin conjures up images of live music, quirky coffee shops, and worldwide cuisine. But along with its booming downtown scene, many don’t realize that it is just as easy to immerse yourself in nature on a trip to Austin than it is to soak up all the Austin Texas attractions. Downtown Austin has an abundance of green spaces that can be enjoyed right within the city limits, and if you crave even more room to roam, consider heading to the nearby McKinney Falls State Park.
About McKinney Falls State Park
McKinney Falls State Park is a beautiful, scenic park located just 13 miles from downtown Austin, Texas. The park covers an area of over 700 acres and is home to stunning waterfalls, numerous hiking trails, and a variety of outdoor recreational activities. The park is named after Thomas F. McKinney, a prominent Texas businessman and politician who settled in the area in the 19th century.
McKinney Falls State Park is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers. The park is situated on the eastern edge of the Texas Hill Country and features a diverse range of flora and fauna, including oak and cedar trees, wildflowers, and an abundance of wildlife such as deer, rabbits, and foxes. Onion Creek cuts through the park, adding to its serenity.
The park is also steeped in history and is home to several historical sites, including the remains of a 19th century homestead and a historic gristmill. Visitors to the park can explore these sites and learn about the rich history of the area, in addition to enjoying a beautiful day outdoors.
Things to Do at McKinney Falls State Park
There are many activities available at McKinney Falls State Park, making it the perfect destination for a day trip or weekend getaway. Whether you are interested in hiking, biking, fishing, or just relaxing in the great outdoors, McKinney Falls has something for everyone.
Hiking and Biking
McKinney Falls State Park features over eight miles of hiking and biking trails, ranging from easy nature walks to more challenging hikes. One of the most popular trails in the park is the 2.8-mile Onion Creek Hike and Bike Trail, which offers a paved surface great for road bikes and strollers. For a more challenging hike, visitors can explore the 2.8-mile Homestead Trail, which winds through the park’s wooded areas and historic sites. Some trails such as the Homestead Trail and Flint Rock Loop Trail require creek crossings.
Swimming and Fishing
Swimming and fishing are also popular activities at McKinney Falls State Park. Visitors can swim in the cool, clear waters of Onion Creek or Williamson Creek. Fishing enthusiasts can cast a line from many locations within the park. For those fishing from the shore, no license is required.
Picnicking and Camping
McKinney Falls State Park offers several picnic areas and campsites, making it the perfect place for a family outing or a weekend camping trip. The park’s campsites are equipped with water and electric hookups and offer easy access to the park’s many hiking trails and recreational activities.
For visitors interested in history, McKinney Falls State Park offers several historical sites to explore. The park is home to the remains of the McKinney family’s 19th century homestead, as well as the ruins of a historic gristmill. Visitors can explore these sites and learn about the history of the area and the people who once called it home.
To check on current conditions and get more information on any activities of interest, be sure to stop in the McKinney Falls State Park Visitor Center. They offer everything from loaned fishing rods to spectacular views of Upper Falls. Kids can also pick up a Junior Ranger Activity Journal for fun tasks to complete throughout their visit and earn a Junior Ranger badge.
Planning Your Visit to McKinney Falls State Park
McKinney Falls State Park is located in Austin at 5808 McKinney Falls Parkway. The entrance fee is $6 for adults, with children 12 and under entering free. The park is open daily from 8am-10pm, and the Visitor’s Center is open Friday through Sunday from 9am-4pm. Passes can be purchased from the park’s website online in advance, which is a good way to ensure entry.
Be sure to come prepared to fully enjoy your day at McKinney Falls State Park by wearing the right gear. Wear comfortable shoes and clothing suitable for hiking, biking, or swimming, depending on your plans. Texas summers can be hot and humid, so be sure to bring plenty of water and sunscreen to stay hydrated and protect your skin from the sun if you will be visiting during the summer.