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We’ve been on a state park kick lately. And for good reason. Texas state parks are beautiful and no two are alike. They also provide something Austinites crave in the middle of summer: water.
This past week, we finally made our first trip out to McKinney Falls State Park. I don’t know why it took us so long to go, considering that it was all of 25 minutes from where we live in North-Central Austin.
The short drive was absolutely worth it. Here’s what you can do at McKinney Falls:
- Mountain biking
- Road biking
- Wildlife observation
You know, normal state park stuff.
McKinney State Park is park of the tackle loaner program, which allows park visitors to borrow fishing equipment and fish within the boundaries of the state park, even if they don’t have a fishing license. The point of contact for the program is Kelly Serio, and you can reach her at (512) 243-1643 if you have any questions.
There are also some historic structures and geological features in the park that are interesting. Texas Parks and Wildlife’s site says, “The stabilized ruins of McKinney’s homestead and his horse trainer’s cabin are preserved in the park,” though we didn’t take the time to see them during our trip. McKinney Falls State Park is also home to ancient volcanic rock formations. You’ll get to see them if you go swimming at the Upper Falls.
Swimming at McKinney Falls State Park
Speaking of the Upper Falls, there are two places to swim at the park: the Upper Falls and the Lower Falls. We asked one of the park rangers which spot she recommended, and she said she liked the Upper Falls because there is deeper water there. We took her word for it and enjoyed her recommended location.
The Upper Falls was perfect with floaties. However, there still areas to enjoy the water at Upper Falls if you don’t have one. Submerged rocks in various places allow either adults or children to stand up. There is also a big “basking rock” that kids seem to enjoy climbing on.
You can also jump off the falls into the swimming hole below, but make sure you pick the right place. As I mentioned before, there are submerged rocks that cause the water depth to vary. Some investigation beforehand will pay off and keep you safe.
We recommend McKinney Falls State Park. Though it may not be the most beautiful state park we’ve been to, or the one with the most activities, the fact that it’s in Austin is awesome! You can get your state park fix even if you only have a couple of hours to spare.
Make sure you listen to our podcast episode about McKinney Falls before your visit. We share a lot more details than I’m able to fit in this article!
Have you been to McKinney Falls? What pointers did we miss in our podcast?
Photos via Flickr CC, courtesy of Jim Nix and Matthew High.
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