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  • Published on Jul 13, 2016
    McKinney Falls State Park

    McKinney Falls State Park

    Since the National Park Service is celebrating 100 years this year, we thought we’d join in on the fun and show you the best of the parks in your area.  Now, many of you may think that because Austin, TX is a large city, there is no room for a state park within the city. And you are right, BUT, there is a state park located just outside the city but still within city limits. McKinney Falls State Park is only 13 miles from the city center and draws plenty of tourists and visitors from the area and far beyond. Let’s take a look at why this park is so unique.

    McKinney Falls State Park

    Located at 5808 McKinney Falls Parkway, Austin, TX this state park is a beauty all in its own. From its flowing creeks, ponds and natural pools that catch fresh water flowing from the falls, to its rugged but beautiful terrain, there is something for everyone to see and enjoy here. 

    McKinney Falls State Park sits at 550 feet above sea level but has many different levels of terrain that are perfect for hiking, mountain biking, and bouldering. If you aren’t sure what bouldering is (I had to look it up) think rock climbing but not as high and not as advanced. You climb over and through big boulder rocks without the fancy equipment you would use for rock climbing.  The boulders are not quite as high as some cliffs you would climb while rock climbing, although you may need to invest in special bouldering shoes. See your local outfitter store for more information on that.

    Other than bouldering, there are over 9 miles of trails perfect for hiking and biking.  2.8 miles of those trails are hard surface trails so you can get out the strollers and roller blades and take the whole family along. Rock Shelter Trail will lead you to one of the early settler’s villages that have been around since the turn of the century. Visitors can see a live glimpse of the Texas homestead from the early days.

    Other than climbing and hiking, the park is a popular gathering spot for fishing and swimming in its well-known Onion Creek and Williamson Creek.  The many creeks that flow throughout the park spill into Onion creek creating falls that flow into clear water pools that attract many swimmers during the summer months. The creeks and pools can sometimes flood after a heavy rain so always be safe and check for any warnings before heading into the water.

    After a long day of hiking, biking, and swimming, you can relax in one of the parks 81 campsites available to the public.  All have water and electric hookups. They also have cabins available for those who wish to rent; and there is also primitive camping available for youth programs such as scout groups. Campsites fill up fast in the summer so make sure to call and reserve your spot early.

    One other aspect of McKinney Falls State Park that adds to its appeal is its wonderful ranger program offered to the community. There are different types of programs offered including a Jr Ranger program for the kids.  The program puts on different seminars and activities frequently including birding activities, geocaching fun, and learning the art of Atlatling which is an ancient mechanism used for launching bows and arrows. The early settlers used it to hunt and you can get the chance to see and use them up close and personal. The junior ranger program offers free journals for kids to use and take on their hikes to help identify wildlife and plant life and educate them while having fun. It’s a great program for teachers, scout groups, and other groups looking to get their kids learning about the great outdoors.

    For more information on McKinney Falls State Park, the ranger programs offered, or to secure a camping spot for the summer, visit https://tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/mckinney-falls.



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