Ever since we bought a State Parks Pass ($70 for an entire year), we have been trying to make the most of it to see the natural beauties in Texas. The closest to us in Austin is McKinney Falls State Park, a quick 20 minutes from downtown. I’ve been there a handful of times, but there was recent rain that made the waterfalls a little more exciting than our visit last year.
We got there in the morning around 10 and brought lunch in a cooler. The kids were very excited about carrying trail maps, as if we were hunting for treasure.
Our first stop was toward the Lower Falls. The last time we visited, we told the Big Kid about how he lost a shoe as a baby, and it bounced on the rocks and landed in the creek below. He found the same spot we pointed out to him of the lost shoe and gave us a pose – both shoes firmly on his feet.
The Lower Falls don’t look like much when you first approach them, but as you hike around to the front view, the water is moving at a pretty good clip. A number of fishermen were in the pool at the bottom of the Falls, and my kids chose a spot nearby to throw rocks.
Bear Shark hasn’t quite mastered the sideways throw needed to skip rocks, so instead, he took fistful of pebbles to chuck into the water. He hardly noticed the falls once throwing rocks was allowed.
We picked a picnic table and sat down to lunch. Here’s the Big Kid showing off his strawberry mouth. For some reason, fruits and veggies seem so much more appealing to my kids when we’re eating picnic-style. They tend to go for those first. Perhaps it’s the novelty of eating outside as a special occasion?
By the time we made it over to the Upper Falls, the kids were getting pooped out. There was a lot of whining, “Why do we have to walk so much?” The crowd got bigger as we stayed into the afternoon, and we knew our time was limited.
There’s a paved path from the Upper Falls that follows Onion Creek and loops around the campsites. We’ve made a mental note to load up bikes and scooters for our next visit. Bear Shark lasted another 20 minutes on the trail before falling asleep on my husband’s shoulder.
Pooped out kids. Healthy lunch. A good dose of the outdoors. I call that a win. We’ll be back again soon! And if we get organized ahead of time, camping may be our next adventure at McKinney Falls. Campsites book up fast in the spring.
McKinney Falls State Park
5808 McKinney Falls Parkway
Austin, TX 78744