Review & Rating of McKinney Falls State Park in Austin
McKinney Falls is about 13 miles from downtown Austin, but once you're in the park you would never know you are so close to suburbia. This is a very nice park with sites that are spacious and set under the trees.
One of the most popular attractions at McKinney Falls are the pools and swimming created by Onion Creek flowing over limestone ledges and splashing into pools. Some of the other reasons to visit McKinney Falls State Park is to enjoy camping under the trees, biking (mountain or street biking), or hiking the trails, fishing, bouldering, or just to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city.
McKinney Falls State Park has 81 sites with water and electricity, 8 walk-in sites with water only, and 6 screened shelters. The campsites are in five different loops and all of the sites have a parking pad, 20 and 30 amp service (11 sites also have 50 AMP service), water, a picnic table, lantern pole, and fire pit. A lot of sites also have a tent pad. The vast majority of the sites are back-in but there are several pull through sites for bigger rigs. Most of the sites are level, heavily treed, and very spacious. The roads are paved as are the parking pads.
Some of the other amenities at McKinney Falls State Park include:
The biggest attraction of McKinney Falls State Park are Upper and Lower Falls. Upper Falls is created from Onion Creek flowing through natural limestone channels which cascade into a beautiful pool which is excellent for swimming and it's surrounded by huge cypress trees and a natural gravel beach. Lower Falls is similar with water flowing across a gently dipping limestone shelf before it plunges eight feet into a fantastic swimming hole complete with a gravel beach.
There are three different hiking and biking trails: Onion Creek is a 3 mile paved trail that circles the campsites and has a section that is excellent for bird watching; the quarter mile Smith Rock Shelter trail is an interpretive trail with a 500 year old cypress tree and lots of birds; and the 3 mile Homestead Trail is more strenuous and good for mountain biking. There is a designated rock climbing area between the upper and lower McKinney Falls. For more information on climbing in the park. Swimming is good below each of the falls.
When you enter, pick up a list of the Ranger programs and enjoy the night hikes, birding, geocaching, or atlatls (ancient weapons used by the Aztec Indians) programs.
Start the day by hiking or biking one or all (if you are really ambitious) of the three trails. Homestead Trail is 3 miles of uneven terrain, very pretty, and moderately strenuous. Cool off in Onion Creek after biking.
Fishing is good in the creek and if you bring the bait the Park will supply the rods, reels, and basic tackle for FREE and no fishing license is required. Texas State Parks have started a fishing program that does not require a fishing license to fish in any of the State Parks - check with the park office for more information.
You'll find some good swimming below either upper or lower McKinney Falls.
After hiking, biking, and swimming, chill out and go visit the Smith Visitor Center which has exhibits on wildlife and cultural history, a, museum, a slide show, and a touch table for the kids.
Austin offers most everything you could ever want to do: great music, excellent restaurants, a wide variety of bike/hike trails, excellent golf courses, kayaking on the lake, zip lines, museums, the State Capital, fun bars, lots for kids to do, and much more. Visit our Guide To Austin and Things To Do Page to learn more.
You can golf at either Roy Kizer or Jimmy Clay, both are very close to McKinney Falls State Park and are owned by the City of Austin. Use this Austin Golf Map to find other golf courses nearby.
Texas Outside uses a tough rating scale and it’s difficult for a campground to get a “10”. Each park is rated on: