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McKinney Falls State Park
McKinney Falls State Park is the perfect way to start your weekend trip to Austin, Texas. McKinney Falls is 10 miles from the state capital, 7 miles from the airport, and just 20 minutes from my house! Not that you care where I live, but it does explain why I visit McKinney Falls so often.
McKinney Falls State Park has 2 mini-waterfalls, swimming, fishing, over 10 miles of hiking trails, and more than 80 campsites. Keep reading for more information on McKinney Falls and be sure to check out my ATX Mural Guide for another great adventure in the Austin area.
Swimming in the waterfalls is the main reason to visit McKinney Falls State Park!! You can swim in either the Upper or Lower Falls, but I suggest checking out both waterfalls before you settle in for the day. Most of the time I prefer the Lower Falls because it’s easier to get to and it has a large rocky beach area. Families with little kids typically go to the Lower Falls. The Upper Falls are equally impressive but to get to the swimming area you’ll have to cross Onion Creek. Either way, both waterfalls are gorgeous and worth checking out! Also they’re both a 5 minute hike from the parking lot, so don’t worry about packing any hiking gear to get to the falls.
Every time I go to McKinney Falls State Park I see a ton of kids jumping from the top of both waterfalls. I normally chicken out but last summer I finally went for it!! It’s really not that scary and it’s a lot of fun!! Just please be safe!!
Y’all the campsites were technically closed during my most recent visit to McKinney Falls, but I drove around the cones to check them out anyway!! Here are my recommendations (in no particular order): 2, 7, 13, 38, 41-46, 48, 49, 53, 55, and 56 (possibly my favorite). This was my first time looking at the campsites at McKinney Falls and I was super impressed! We live so close to McKinney Falls that I’ve never considered camping there but after looking at their sites we’ll definitely be planning a camping trip!! And if you’re new to camping, then be sure to check out my free camping checklist and my recommended camping essentials.
My favorite trail to hike at McKinney Falls State Park is the Rock Shelter Trail because of the neat rock formations along the creek side. It’s a short trail but definitely worth checking out. I also like to hike down by the lower falls creek bed and find a secluded spot for swimming.
Some of the other trails at McKinney Falls are Homestead Trail, Flint Rock Loop Trail, and Williamson Creek Overlook Trail. These trails are nice but they’re not a “must do” in my opinion. Also be warned that to get to these trails you’ll need to cross the creek by the lower falls. Be prepared to get your feet wet or take off your shoes. If you have enough time to hike these trails then be sure to check out the McKinney Homestead built by Thomas McKinney in the 1850s. It’s just some old ruins now but interesting to think a family used to live there back in the day.
There’s really only one bike trail at McKinney Falls State Park and that’s the Onion Creek Hike and Bike Trail. It’s an easy 3 mile trail, which I definitely recommend! It’s mostly paved making it an easy trail for families and kids. If you don’t have a bike with you, then I recommend hiking this trail instead.
I’ve never fished…like ever…but apparently you can fish at McKinney Falls State Park. There’s fishing along Onion Creek and Williamson Creek, but from what I’ve heard from my friends the best fishing is on Onion Creek.
When to Visit McKinney Falls
The best time of the year to visit McKinney Falls State Park is in the summer months. During the summer you can enjoy swimming in the upper and lower falls, which is my favorite thing to do at McKinney Falls.