Beautiful waterfalls and great location close to everything in Austin!
Easy to access and fun for the whole family. The trails are shorter and easy to hike on, the falls are really scenic, and the campsites are well maintained. Overall, it's a classic state park feel, but is located just minutes outside of Austin.
With summer rapidly approaching for Texas I wanted to cruise down to Austin before the heat waves made it a bit unbearable. In doing so I elected to check out McKinney Falls Park. I will say that going into my stay I had only seen a couple of videos about the park which were less than descriptive as to what to expect from the park. Typically I would pine over reviews in advance but this time I decided to instead let the park surprise me and report the full initial reaction.
I did not book in advance, something I would not advise you to do unless it is winter season at the park. When I arrived there were only 2 campsites left on a Thursday just after noon. Needless to say this park fills quickly when the weather is pleasant. These two sites were literally only available for a single night as the campground was fully booked for the weekend.
I can see why quickly from pulling into the park why it is so popular, the grounds are well maintained, the wildflowers are in bloom making for a wonderful retreat for some amazing hiking and a scenic area for family photos and being only 15 minutes from downtown Austin easily makes this the best retreat away from the city for those wanting a quick weekend get away.
When selecting a campsite I often times like to find an area near the restroom without being directly across from them, having access to this amenity can be useful however proximity to avoid cross traffic is key when using a large campground. This location has restrooms scattered through the various loops with a centralized shower house. Our site was site 69, it backed up to one of the restrooms on our loop and actually had a small private path to the facility which made it unique from other sites and very convenient.
While the spring has brought in recent rains, the site was a it more overgrown than I would have liked considering this area is noted for a variety of snakes, however the tent pad and picnic area itself was cleared so with hesitation we went ahead and set up our overnight home.
The tent pad was a right pebble base, this made sleeping in just a sleeping bag impossible. We had to pad the base with several layers due to the sharp texture of the rocks below. I noticed later when packing the tent we also ended with a small tear at the lip of the tent because of these rocks. I would advise on this surface potentially laying a tarp barrier before placing your tent fo this reason.
Sites were standardly equipped with a picnic table and fire ring. Our site had both water and electricity, which actually were quite handy considering we were having some charging issues with my in car charger. This particular site was located directly beside the camp host.
We used the site as a basecamp for exploring the city in the evening and the following morning before checking out of the park we took a drive to the showers and explored the park fully. The showers had pretty hard water and lower pressure than some but definitely got the job done for bringing us back to life from the muggy day, nearly 75% humidity.
We visited both the upper and lower falls areas as well as the wildflower field. I can easily see after visiting these just why the park stays so busy! The beauty is astounding, but more so the water offers a retreat for those looking to take a dip in the cool flowing pools. While both were down from normal account, we still saw many people diving in and enjoying the day. Others fished along the banks, hiked the many trails surrounding the waters and enjoyed picnics in the designated areas.
My friend wade into the water to see what it felt like and it was still a bit cool for her liking at this time of April, but give it a couple months and that cool temp would be more than welcomed!
All in All despite the few small areas for improvement I couldn't see this park being anything less than a 5! The quality of experience when we visited with not impaired by the numerous guests and though it could change later in the season, for early April when the wildflowers bloomed wild, the waters flowed cool and the camping was not in intolerable heat it was a win!
Book in advance any time other than Winter.
Bring sunscreen there is little shade near the falls so you will want to protect yourself. In the brief time I was out there I got a little burned on my neck and shoulders.
Bring drinks, we stopped in the Check In Station and there were only a handful of drinks and supplies. I would suggest bringing a water filter or bringing a cooler of drinks for your visit.
Beware of snakes and spiders. On our stay we noticed an influx of spiders, while we personally did not see a snake some others were saying they had seen them basking near the banks and on some of the trails. Always be aware!!
Remember do not pull vehicles into the grass, keep all cars in designated drive areas. Each campsite has a parking area for you to use, if you need additional parking there is more parking near restrooms.
We picked this campground so that we could visit with a cousin who lives in Austin. Our stay was on a Thursday night in early April and although most sites were occupied, it was a quiet campground with the sites spaced a good distance apart. Some sites were afforded more privacy with trees. Our site (78 in the Big Cedar Loop) had a slight downgrade but it leveled out at the end and our 17’ van fit perfectly. Bathrooms were reasonably clean. Nice trails to see two waterfalls. Enjoyed our one night stay here at this time of the year (quiet with lots of wildflowers) but I imagine it would be a very different place on a hot summer weekend, a time I would not want to be there!
Mckinney is my favorite campground I have been to so far. It's cheap and has the most beautiful campsites. Private and spread out while feeling safe. Gates were easy to operate after hours and facilities were kept clean. Campers and staff are respectful. The falls are a must see with the upper and lower falls being very different from each other.
This Texas State Park is just a short 15 minute drive from downtown Austin. It is only a 5 minute drive from the Austin airport. The close vicinity to the city does mean that this park has a constant flow of visitors. In the summer it is extremely busy with day visitors, weekend campers and long-term campers. In the winter it is moderately busy. The park has lots of forest trails to hike as well as some interesting rock formations around the creek and water holes. The most noted feature of the park is definitely the Upper and Lower Falls.
This park has a variety of facilities including cabins, RV sites, tent sites and group sites.
There are water, electricity and restrooms with flush toilets and sinks near all the campsites. At the premium campsites there are all of these amenities plus showers. This park is great for swimming, fishing, hiking and bicycling.
You might see deer, raccoons, armadillos and occasionally snakes. All of the wildlife should be left undisturbed. Except for the fish. Fishing is allowed in the park and one will not need a state fishing license when fishing within the park.
This is a very family friendly and well-managed park with the only downside being that the park is often very busy with visitors.
As a Ranger for The Dyrt, I get products to test from time to time - today I am testing the RoM Outdoors Backpack.
The RoM Pack (pronounced "Roam") is a backpack, blanket and poncho all in one piece of gear. It is made of heavy duty 600D fabric which is water-resistant and appears to be very durable. The total volume of the pack is about 3000 cu. in. Their slogan is, "Let Adventure Unfold". The unique feature of this pack is that the backpack unfolds into a blanket. In addition, it can be unfolded into a poncho.
While I tend to use ultralight gear when I'm hiking or backpacking, I found this pack useful for fly fishing. I was able to carry my boots, waders, hammock, rod, reel, net and fishing tackle nicely. Once I reached my destination, I unfolded it to use as blanket. See the demonstration video. While I had good sunny weather, I could foresee using this piece of gear as a poncho if a thunderstorm were to roll in and I wanted to wait out the storm.
Unique multiuse design
Heavy duty water-resistant material
The blanket material is soft
When used as a poncho, it is also insulating.
Multiple pockets (2 removable pockets) with Molly straps
Designed and Made in the USA
Heavy in comparison to other backpacks
Straps and pockets somewhat obstruct use while using it as a poncho
Water bottle pockets could be larger to accommodate various sizes
For more info:
Located On Onion Creek, 15 minutes from downtown Austin, Park is a 70 year old park that was at one time McKinney Ranch. Two waterfalls , one is the upper Falls and the other lower falls, with trails throughout. The old homestead trail has the original stone ranch house. Numerous rock walls . Fishing , camping, swimming and hiking. There are 86 campsites , 5 cabins, large meeting/dinning hall, and outdoor theater. A variety of wildlife also.
I love this place, usually go 3 times per summer. When it rains its has wonderful water falls. Nice bathrooms and hiking trails.
We came here on a particularly warm winter weekend. What was left of the foliage was tattered and brown, as you'd expect in the dead of winter. But the air was warm and the river was beautiful. We hiked all up and down and check out the sweet little waterfalls and spouts pouring through holes in the rocks. The campsite was just fine- not my favorite because it had a pretty small designated pad where any/all tents had to be, so if you're in a group with multiple tents, you'll be very close neighbors. Sites would probably be really pretty when the trees have their leaves, looked a bit sad this time of year, but offered an awesome launchpad from which to check out the rest of the park- so we'll take it :)
Pretty Park in Austin! Hiking, swimming and all that Austin has to offer! Perfect for roughing it in an urban area.