McKinney Falls State Park is located at the southeastern edge of Austin, Texas, around the confluence of Onion and Williams Creeks. There are two falls in the park, designated the Upper Falls and Lower Falls.
Things to Do
This state park is best known for its scenic hiking trails, and the Upper and Lower Waterfalls within its boundaries. There’s hiking, road biking, mountain biking, picnicking, fishing, swimming and wildlife observation. It’s also home to “Old Baldy”, a bald cypress tree that is 103 feet tall and estimated to be over 500 years old.
The park also features the Smith Rock Shelter, a limestone overhang used for shelter by Native Americans for hundreds of years, along with the ruins of McKinney’s stone house and his horse trainer’s cabin.
The Smith Rock Shelter and the McKinney homestead have each been added to the National Register of Historic Places.
The land for this park was donated by the grandson of the man for whom it is named, Thomas F. McKinney. McKinney moved onto the land in 1850 and took two years to build a stone house, barns and a gristmill. The mill was destroyed by a flood in 1869 and the house by a fire in the late 1940s. McKinney lived on the land ranching and raising thoroughbred horses until his death.
Plants and Wildlife
Bald Cypress, sycamores and pecan trees line the banks of Onion Creek and live oak, ashe juniper, and mesquite can be found on the drier uplands. Other trees found in the park include Wafer Ash, Red Oak, Texas Persimmon, chinaberry, Cedar Elm and Mexican Plum. In spring, the roads are lined with wildflowers, dominated by the Texas Bluebonnet. Cacti can also be found such as the Prickly Pear and Pencil Cactus.
White-tailed deer are common throughout the park, as well as raccoons, armadillos, and fox squirrels. Many bird species are found in the park including buntings.
Facilities and Fees
McKinney Falls State Park has around 90 campsites available with different options. There are primitive sites that are $15 a night, sites with water and electric (30 amp) that are $20 a night, and premium sites with water and a 50 amp hookup that are $24 a night; all of which you must add the daily entry fee of $6. But, it’s free for kids 12 and under.
They also have screened shelters that sleep up to 8 people on plywood bunks (no mattress), have ceiling fans, picnic tables, an outdoor grill, electric hookup and a hot/cold water sink for $40 a night.