What to do in McKinney Falls State Park

McKinney Falls State Park in Travis County, in south Austin, is a 744.4 acre park acquired in 1970 from private donation and opened to the public in 1976. The headquarters of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department are near this location.

The park is named for Thomas F. McKinney, who came to Texas in the early 1820s as one of Stephen F. Austin's first 300 colonists. Sometime between 1850 and 1852, McKinney moved to Travis County and his property on Onion Creek, where he became a prominent breeder of race horses with his own stable and private track. He built his large two-story home, stone fences, and the first flour mill in the area with slave labor.

Not only is the McKinney Falls State Park steeped in history, but visitors also have the chance to participate in various recreational activities.

Park facilities include screened shelters with bunk beds (no mattresses); 84 campsites with water and electricity; walk-in water sites (200 yards in with a picnic table, a fire ring, a grill, and water in area); picnic sites; an interpretive hiking trail, approximately 3/4 mile long; 3.5 miles of paved
trails; 4 miles of multi-use trails for hiking and mountain biking; an interpretive center with an exhibit room and audiovisual room; a sponsored youth group camping area; and a group camp which includes the screened shelters located next to the dining hall; the dining hall (capacity 80) may be rented separately for day use. There is also an amphitheater that seats 50 people.

Nearby points of interest are Bastrop, Buescher, Pedernales Falls, Longhorn Cavern, and Lockhart State Parks; Jimmy Clay & Roy Kaiser Municipal Golf Course; and the City of Austin, with its limitless attractions.

Camping and entrance fees vary. For reservations, call 512/389-8900. Current weather conditions, including fire bans and water levels, can vary from day to day. For more details, call the park or Park Information at 1 800 792 1112.

Preserved in the park are the ruins of his trainer's cabin and the stabilized ruins of his own homestead. Information on Thomas F. McKinney and the history of the park's land use is interpreted in the Smith Visitor Center. Camping, hiking, mountain biking, road biking, picnicking, fishing, and wildlife observation are other activities. Swimming is now allowed in Onion Creek; call 512/243-1643 for current creek conditions.

Tours: There are various types of interpretive tours with a fee charged per person; contact the park for specific information/reservations.

The park is located 13 miles southeast of the State Capitol in Austin off US Highway 183. Take McKinney Falls Parkway, off US 183 South, straight to the park entrance.

McKinney Falls State Park is located at an elevation of 1197 feet. Temperatures within the park range from an average July high of 95 degrees with a southeast breeze and January average low of 37 degrees. The park is moderately humid year round with May being the wettest month. The first/last freeze are November 28/March 2. Current weather conditions can vary from day to day. For more details, call the park or Park Information at 1-800-792-1112.

5808 McKinney Falls Parkway
Austin, TX 78744

Phone: 512/243-1643

  • McKinney Falls State Park  Travel Q&A