McKinney Falls State Park, Beautiful Waterfalls Just Outside Austin

McKinney Falls State Park is a great destination for day hikes, swimming holes, and weekend camping trips. McKinney Falls is located in Austin, Texas, and is one of the many great outdoor recreation areas the city has to offer.  The state park has 81 campsites and almost 10 miles of hiking trails.  You can also fish and swim in Onion and Williamson creeks. 

McKinney Falls, onion creek
Onion Creek lined by cypress trees in McKinney Falls State Park

The highlights of the park are the upper and lower falls on Onion Creek.  It’s an impressive view to watch the water pour over the limestone bedrock dropoff here.  The pools above and below the falls are also great swimming holes.  McKinney falls gets really crowded during hot summer days so make sure you come early to beat the crowds.  Swimming was not allowed in the park until 1993 due to unsafe discharges from a nearby sewage treatment plant.   Occasionally swimming will still be restricted due to fecal coliform counts.  This usually occurs after heavy rains.  Despite this, the park is still a very popular swimming hole.

McKinney Falls, State Park, Austin
Checking out Lower McKinney Falls here

Around 100 million years ago, this part of Texas was covered by a shallow sea.  The sediments and animal shells left over from this period solidified into the limestone bedrock that you see throughout the park today.

Lower McKinney Falls, State Park, Austin
Lower McKinney Falls flowing over the limestone dropoff
McKinney Falls State Park Limestone Bedrock
Another shot of the carved out limestone bedrock in McKinney Falls State Park

There is a large bedrock flat near the lower falls that is perfect for laying out or having a picnic.  This is the main hangout spot in the park.  There’s also a lot of picnic tables near the upper falls if you’re looking for somewhere in the shade.

McKinney Falls, Cypress Trees, Austin Texas
The pool below upper McKinney Falls is lined by cypress trees
Upper McKinney Falls, Picnic Area, Austin Texas
The picnic area near Upper McKinney Falls

Fishing is permitted in the park and even though I didn’t see anyone catch any fish I was told by the Rangers that people regularly catch decent sized bass in the park.  Since McKinney Falls is a state park, Texas does not require you to have a fishing license while fishing inside the park.  The state of Texas publishes a fishing guide specific to McKinney Falls State Park.  You can check that out Here for additional information on fishing in the park.

Onion Creek, McKinney Falls, Austin
Another shot of Onion Creek near Lower Falls

If you decide to get in the water here, swim at your own risk!  There are usually no lifeguards working at the park.  The currents can be very strong and dangerous after heavy rains.  Don’t enter the water during those conditions. 

Let us know what you think about the park in the comments below!

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