(Last Updated On: )

Waterfall at McKinney Falls State Park

Looking to go to a place where you can get lost in a landscape of historical significance and outstanding natural beauty?

Then make a point of heading to the magnificent McKinney Falls State Park.

Situated in Austin within easy reach of San Antonio, Waco, Houston and Dallas, the park is a popular public recreational spot for those who want to detach themselves from the hustle and bustle of big city life for a while.

It is named after Thomas McKinney, who built a homestead, gristmill and horse trainer’s cabin back in the 1800s when he lived in the park – the ruins of which can still be seen today.

Aside from these remnants, other attractions in the park include the stunning McKinney Falls and the iconic 300 year old, 103 foot tall ‘Old Baldy’. One of Texas’s oldest bald cypress trees that are open for the public to see.

Like with most state parks, McKinney Falls State Park is best explored via its hiking and biking trails. Other public activities include swimming, fishing, bouldering, picnicking and camping – of which there are 81 RV and tent sites and 6 cabin options available.


The park offers several fabulous opportunities to partake in a range of outdoor recreational activities.

Here are some of the things you can do while you are there.

Water Activities at McKinney Falls State Park

If you are into boating the scenic Onion River provides plenty of opportunity to engage in kayaking, canoeing and SUP.

It is also a lovely spot for swimming too. Providing a great way to cool off from the often unbearable heat of the Texan sun.

As well as the river, you can also choose to swim in the pools that form at the lower part of the falls.

However, wherever you choose to swim, you will need to exercise caution as these areas are not lifeguarded.

Fishing at McKinney Falls State Park

Fishing at the park generally takes place at Onion Creek or Williamson Creek, and you’ll be pleased to know that you don’t need a fishing licence to partake in this activity.

Alternatively, should you rather fish directly on the water, you can do so on an SUP, or in canoe or kayak.

Expect to catch plenty of catfish, bass and sunfish, wherever you choose to cast a line.

Hiking and Biking at McKinney Falls State Park

For those who want to explore the park in more detail there are over 9 miles of trails to explore. All of which showcase its gorgeous and varied landscape.

One of the most popular trails is the 2.8-mile Onion Creek Hike and Bike Trail, which has a very manageable hard surface that is ideally suited to strollers and road bikes.

Be sure to tackle the hiking only, Rock Shelter Trail, for a glimpse of where early visitors in the 1800s camped.

Bouldering at McKinney Falls State Park

Bouldering is an activity that attracts many visitors to the park.

If this is something you would like to do, you will find several suitable places to climb. Although many of them can be challenging as they comprise steep, jagged terrain.

Should you want to partake in bouldering, you would be best advised to wear the right clothes and safety gear.

Picnicking at McKinney Falls State Park

As the park is blessed with an enchanting tranquility and stunning scenery, many visitors enjoy outdoor picnicking while here.

Throughout the park there are several designated picnic spots for you to use, many of which have picnic benches and are situated near restrooms.

A couple of these picnic areas are nestled on the scenic banks of Onion Creek. Which also provides lovely opportunities for a swim in the creek.

After finishing your al fresco dining experience, be sure to respect the park by taking all your trash back with you.

Pets at McKinney Falls State Park

Pets are welcome at the park, so as long as they remain out of its buildings.

Some other restrictions may apply, so if you intend to bring your dog with you, it might be a good idea to call the main office to ascertain how they might affect your visitor experience.

Camping at McKinney Falls State Park

If you are wanting to stay overnight at the park, there are 81 sites available across several different loops.

Of these, 12 sites come with hookups for 50-amp electricity, while the other 69 have 30-amp hookups.

The majority of these sites can accommodate rigs that are up to 50 feet long, with a handful of them even being capable of holding RVs that are up to 115 feet in length.

All of these sites come with a picnic table, tent pad, fire ring with grill and lantern post. They are also located near rest rooms, showers and a range of other amenities too.

To compliment its camping options, the park also has 6 cabins that can sleep up to 4 people each. These cabins are quite basic as there are no showers or restrooms in them. However, they do have 2 twin beds, air conditioning units, a mini-fridge, microwave, fire ring with a grill and sink with prep area.

If you want to stay in these cabins there is a two night minimum rental on weekends and three nights during the holidays.

For sponsored youth groups that are nonprofit, there is also a group camp available to hire as well. It can accommodate 50 people and comes with the same amenities as you will find at all of the RV and tent sites.

Park Location

McKinney Falls State Park
5808 McKinney Falls Pkwy
Austin, TX 78744
Phone: 512.243.1643




Here is a short YouTube video showcasing several attractions at McKinney Falls State Park: