Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Campground Review: McKinney Falls State Park Austin, TX

 Just prior to visiting my sister in Austin in the end of September I took a 3 day visit to McKinney Falls State Park located on the southeastern corner of Austin right around the intersecting of the Onion and Williamson creeks.
Not exactly Niagara, this is part of the Lower Falls at the park.
Thomas F. McKinney owned the 10,000 acres, part of which the state park occupies and worked it as a race horse raising ranch in the 1850's.  McKinney died in 1876 and his widow sold the land to James W. Smith.  In 1971 Smith's grandson donated 641 acres of the plot to the state of Texas for the purpose of creating a park.  After development the park was opened to the public in April of  1976.

This was the horse trainers house when the ranch trained race horses.

Here's the McKinney State Park data sheet:

Hookups:                                 20, 30 and 50 amp, water
Fire ring:                                  Yes
Water Access:                         Yes (creeks)
Fresh Water:                            Yes
Trash Service:                          Yes
Toilets:                                    Yes
Showers:                                 Yes
Dump station:                          Yes
WiFi:                                       No
Level sites:                              Yes
Laundry:                                  No
Store:                                       Small ranger station store
Pool:                                        No
Shade:                                     Yes
Verizon reception:                   4G, 3 out of 5 bars
Millenicom reception:              4 out of 4 bars
Cost:                                       $20/night

You can see where the water flow has eroded the limestone creek bed.
 The park contains 80 campsites and over seven miles of hiking and biking trails, most of which are through thick tree canopy that provides sun relief.

Meh!  Wally navigated the slopes just by riding the brakes down.

Onion Creek runs for 1.7 miles through McKinney State Park and theres a pond you can swim in (no lifeguard) beneath each set of falls.

The swim pond below the Lower Falls.
Onion Creek just entering the Upper Falls.
If the drought ever lets up and Austin gets some meaningful rainfall the falls in McKinney State Park would resemble the many really pretty pictures on the Internet.  As you can tell from my photos they were pretty diminished but still nice to hike to.  It's very unique to find a Texas State Park within a major city limits that allows camping (the one in Houston doesn't, for example) and the connectivity reception options at McKinney are the best I've ever experienced in Texas.  I biked/walked all the trails in the park and the opportunities to view deer and other wildlife was constant.  Couple camping at McKinney with a trip to the new Boardwalk along Lady Bird Lake and you'd have a great weekend experience right within Austin.

Thanks for reading!

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