What you need to know before visiting McKinney Falls State Park


McKinney Falls has been an Austin hotspot for hiking, swimming, and camping since it opened to the public nearly fifty years ago. However, the park has evolved over the years in response to natural disasters and development. As fall brings cool, cool weather for hiking and camping, here are five tips you should know before heading to the state park closest to Austin.

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1. Smiths Visitor Center at McKinney Falls State Park

After opening in October after nearly eight years of closure, McKinney Falls updated the center with new interpretive displays of bat caves and the El Camino Real trail that missionaries and soldiers hiked. in the 1800s.

The park closed the visitors’ center after nearly 40 inches of water flooded the building on Halloween 2013. The building was flooded again in 2015, further delaying the reopening of the center.

McKinney Falls remodeled the center to withstand future flooding by creating new exhibits with impermeable materials and raising the heating, ventilation and cooling systems above the flood lines.

The new interactive educational display

2. Night hikes

Get out some Saturdays at 8 p.m. and take an easy, family-friendly 3/4 mile hike. Hikers can try their luck spotting wolf spiders, scorpions, and nocturnal wildlife.

A star show lights up in the "bat room" as part of the new interactive educational exhibit at the Smith Visitors Center at McKinney Falls State Park on Monday, October 18, 2021. The visitor center opened for the first time since 2013 due to extensive flood damage Halloween.

3. Camping at McKinney Falls

Bring up to 8 people to enjoy one of the 81 campsites equipped with electricity, a picnic table and a grill. Prices range from $ 20 to $ 24 per night, however, these prices are subject to change.

If tents aren’t your thing, try booking one of the six cabins located in the park. Although the park does not allow pets in or around the cabin, the lodges offer accommodations such as a microwave, mini-fridge, two bunk beds, and air conditioning. Rates are currently $ 86 per night, and a minimum two-night rental is required on weekends.

4. Geocaching

Search for modern-day buried treasure in McKinney Falls. Many people hide items in state parks such as McKinney. Visitors to the park must upload the coordinates of various hidden items on geocaching.com to begin the hunt.

5. Old Baldy

At 103 feet tall, Old Baldy dominates visitors. The park estimates the tree to be 500 years old and is one of the oldest bald cypress trees on public land.

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