This morning, after sending my daughter off to camp, I read Kristy Owen’s blog, 365 Things to do in Austin, Texas. Her post today, #214, was about McKinney Falls. She described the falls as, “another true piece of heaven right here in Central Austin.” Well, I had no idea they were right in Austin! I always imagined McKinney Falls State Park as being quite far away. I grabbed some water, snacks, sunscreen, a change of clothes for the kids, and we hopped in the car.
McKinney Falls State Park is actually right next to the airport. It costs $6 per person over 13 to enter the park. We got a map at the entrance and were on our way.
There are two “must see” places in the park. Take the first right off the main road and you will end up in the parking lot for the Lower Falls. This is where we spent most of our morning. It is a nice short 5 minute walk from the parking lot to the water. The trail is not marked, so it did take a bit of trial and error to actually find the water. But you can hear the falls, so you’ll find it eventually!
The water is lovely and shallow in most areas. Right in front of the falls it does get deeper (up to an adult’s shoulders). The boys had a fantastic time wading in the water, picking out sea shells and trying to catch small fish. In fact, when it was time to leave, my 8 year old said, “But this is the best place I have ever been!” When I told him we’d come back later with his sister, he asked, “Today?”
The second right off the main road leads you to the parking lot for the path to the Upper Falls. This walk only takes about 2 minutes. There isn’t much to do at the Upper Falls, other than to look and say, “Wow, pretty.” The Upper Falls made me a bit nervous because I had visions of little boys running, tripping, and falling over the edge to the water below.
We had a great morning and will definitely be going back. Next time we’ll bring water shoes (there was some broken glass in the rocks along the shore, and a fish hook too), life jackets (to lower my stress level in the water), and butterfly nets for fishing (which will probably work better than a baseball cap).
McKinney Falls State Park
5808 McKinney Falls Parkway
Austin, TX 78744