McKinney Falls State Park
Austin, Texas (Travis County)
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About the State Park
McKinney Falls is a popular and inviting respite from Texas' bustling state capital. The 641-acre park features over 80 campsites, including developed (RV) and hike-in sites. Screened shelters, group shelters and a group dining hall are also available.
McKinney Falls Copyright © Justin W. Moore
Outdoor recreation opportunities include hiking, mountain biking, bicycling, swimming, birding and wildlife observation. Onion Creek, which flows 1.7 miles through the park, offers both swimming and fishing opportunities. Fish species in the creek include perch, catfish and bass. Wildlife observation opportunities exist for armadillos, rock squirrels, white-tail deer and many bird species. During the fall, winter and spring, shorebirds and ducks are fairly common.
The park's more than seven miles of trails are each unique and worthy of exploration (Trail Map.) The leisurely 3/4 mile Smith Rock Shelter interpretive trail begins at the park's Visitor Center, taking visitors past one of Travis County's oldest bald cypress trees and through a natural rock shelter. The 3.5-mile Hike and Bike Trail is paved and wheelchair-accessible, while the 4-mile unpaved Homestead Trail is superb for mountain biking and hiking enthusiasts as well as those interested in the park's history.
Explanation of Symbols Campsites/Overnight Facilities 3 star Leashed Pets Permitted? YES Picnic Areas/Playgrounds 3 star Solitude 2 star Trail System 2 star Water Recreation 1 star Wildlife 2 star Ratings are based on a scale of 0 (low) to 4 (high).
Wild Texas NotebookJustin and I have hiked the Hike and Bike Trail, the River Trail and the Smith Rock Shelter Trail. The latter features the remnants of a natural rock shelter first used by humans over 1,400 years ago. Accessible via the Homestead Trail, the ruins of Thomas F. McKinney's 1850s homestead provide an interesting glimpse into the past. McKinney was of one of the original three hundred colonists in Stephen F. Austin's settlement. The expansive picnic area along Onion Creek, shaded by large live oaks, is an especially peaceful retreat after a hike or bike ride.
While results vary from year to year, I recommend a visit to McKinney during peak bluebonnet viewing season in South Texas. There are usually some beautiful expanses of wildflowers (including bluebonnets, Indian paintbrush, and morning glory) on the drive from San Antonio to Austin. The park itself often has bluebonnets scattered throughout, particularly around the Smith Visitor Center.
To continue your wildflower viewing, visit the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, located in southwest Austin. The center is a beautifully designed facility, featuring year-round wildflower and native plant displays. The combination of a visit to McKinney Falls State Park and the Wildflower Center makes for a terrific day trip.
For more information, read our trip reports:
The nearest major Texas cities are: Austin, Corpus Christi, San Antonio, Houston, Dallas
Check for restricted park access before any trip. When controlled public hunts are in progress, general access is not permitted.
Campsite and other facility fees are in addition to the park entrance fee.
Note: Learn about the $60 Texas State Parks Pass which exempts passholders, and the passengers in their vehicle, from the entrance fees at all Texas State Parks.
Reservations can also be made by calling TPWD's Central Reservation System at
|McKinney Falls State Park
5808 McKinney Falls Parkway
Austin, TX 78744
TPWD Park Info: 1-800-792-1112