Your Comprehensive Guide to the State Park

Located just 13 miles from Downtown Austin, McKinney Falls State Park is an exceptional place to enjoy the great outdoors. Visitors can see local wildlife like armadillos, painted bunting, and various snake species native to Texas. From camping and hiking to swimming, there is no shortage of activities, whether traveling alone, with your partner, or with the whole family.

Here’s our comprehensive guide to McKinney Falls State Park, including details about amenities, hiking and biking trails, and everything you need to plan the perfect visit.

About McKinney Falls State Park

With 641 acres and 81 campsites on the grounds, McKinney Falls is an easy outdoor getaway within Austin. It is best known for its hiking, fishing, and mountain biking trails. The state park is open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily, so you can spend a day exploring or plan an overnight stay in one of the many campsites or at a nearby hotel.

Tickets, Parking and Reservations

To enter the park, you need to make reservations in advance. Day passes are only $6 for visitors ages 13 and older. With a day pass, you can swim, hike, bike, bird watch, and picnic to your heart’s content. Two parking lots are available—one at the visitor center and a second near Lower Falls, making it convenient and easy to access several points across the park. 

What Can I Do at McKinney Falls?

Beyond the 500-year-old cypress known as “Old Baldy,” the area features nine hiking trails and two large swimming holes: Lower McKinney Falls and Upper McKinney Falls.

Lower McKinney Falls is ideal for younger children, given its shallower depths, while Upper McKinney Falls has deeper water for more experienced swimmers. Please be aware that while dogs are not permitted in the water, they can explore the rest of the park on a leash.

For those interested in hiking and biking, McKinney Falls offers plenty of trails for all skill levels. The best biking trail is the 2.8-mile Onion Creek Hike and Bike Trail. However, the ultimate McKinney Falls hiking trail is the Rock Shelter Trail.

Camping and Accommodations

McKinney Falls camping is perfect for those wanting a weekend away in the city. The campsites all feature electricity and water hookups, providing essential amenities for comfortable overnight stays. However, if you prefer something less rugged, McKinney Falls has six newly remodeled cabins that can be reserved in advance. If camping and cabins aren’t your style, there are also several hotels in the area, many of which are just a few minutes from the park’s main entrance. 

Plan Your Trip to McKinney Falls State Park

Spanning more than 640 acres of breathtaking natural scenery, McKinney Falls is a favorite among travelers seeking quality outdoor time. Looking to explore more of Austin's natural gems? Check out the best state parks and recreation areas around Austin