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Trails Information

Find solitude and beauty in Austin’s city limits.

line drawing of armadillo
Nine-banded armadillo

Discover wilderness in the city at McKinney Falls State Park where prairie meets plateau. Hike or bike the winding trails through the woods or head to Onion Creek to relax near the falls. Watch for wildlife and keep your eyes open for remnants of the past that tell stories of those who’ve come before us.

Trails

Accessing the Homestead, Flint Rock and Williamson Creek Overlook trails requires crossing the creek at the Lower Falls. Use extreme caution when crossing the creek. Plan on getting your feet wet!

All trails allow hiking and biking unless otherwise indicated.

This list may not include all trails in the park.

Trail Distance Time Difficulty Description
Rock Shelter Trail 0.6 mi. 15 min. Easy Enjoy variety along this hiking-only trail! You’ll get great views of Onion Creek, walk by the huge bald cypress tree named “Old Baldy,” and feel the cooler temperatures of the prehistoric limestone Rock Shelter.
Onion Creek Hike and Bike Trail 2.8 mi. 1.5 hrs. Easy This improved surface trail for hiking and biking parallels Onion Creek, before winding through the forest around the campground areas. Great for seeing wildlife like white-tailed deer and maybe even a coyote.
Picnic Trail 0.5 mi. 15 min. Easy Only hiking is allowed on this short family-friendly trail. After picnicking, you can stroll over to check out great views at the Lower Falls.
Homestead Trail 3.1 mi. 1.5 hrs. Moderate This hike and bike trail is one of the best places in the park to discover the past. Check out the McKinney Homestead, Gristmill and Smith Family Picnic Table. The only way to get to this trail is to cross the creek. Prepare to get your feet wet and exercise caution.
Flint Rock Loop Trail 1.5 mi. 1 hr. Moderate Rocky terrain leads into a quiet hardwood bottomland where you feel like you're truly away from it all. Requires creek crossing to access trail. Exercise caution! Don’t forget to bring water for you and your dog on this primitive trail.
Williamson Creek Overlook Trail 1.1 mi. 45 min. Moderate While this trail is only a little more than a mile, note that you have to travel along part of the Homestead Trail and Flint Rock Loop Trail to get here, so pace yourself. The views of Williamson Creek are worth the trek! Requires creek crossing to access trail. Exercise caution!
Service Road Trail 1.0 mi. 1 hr. Moderate Extend your experience of the Homestead Trail area by hiking and biking the Homestead Service Road Trail. Believe it or not, this densely forested area used to be farm land for the McKinney family!
List of Trails

Points of Interest

GPS coordinates shown in decimal degrees.

Point Latitude Longitude Description
Horse Trainer's Cabin 30.1818° -97.7253° Remains of the former residence of John Von Hagen, Thomas McKinney's horse trainer.
Upper Falls 30.1845° -97.7256° Water cascades through natural channels within a massive bed of exposed limestone and volcanic ash. Note: Be safe around water!
Old Baldy 30.1841° -97.7237° This 100’ tall bald cypress tree sprouted here as Leonardo Da Vinci finished the Mona Lisa over 500 years ago. Voted Austin’s Tree of the Year in 2012.
Prehistoric Rock Shelter 30.1847° -97.7230° Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, this limestone overhang provided shelter for Native Americans for more than 8,000 years.
Bouldering Rocks 30.1865° -97.7222° A great place for a type of rock climbing performed without ropes or harnesses. Use only with a bouldering mat and practice safety.
El Camino Real 30.1880° -97.7209° The limestone beneath your feet is part of a 2,500-mile road stretching from Mexico to Louisiana called El Camino Real de los Tejas. This area has been an important river crossing for over 400 years.
Lower Falls 30.1884° -97.7210° Relax to the sounds of Onion Creek as it flows over limestone ledges to the pool below. Note: Be safe around water!
McKinney Homestead 30.1897° -97.7207° These stone walls hold the stories of a crumbling personal empire, slavery, emancipation, farming, and family life from 1850-1940. Enslaved people built this homestead for Thomas McKinney, a racehorse breeder and one of Stephen F. Austin’s original colonists.
Gristmill 30.1888° -97.7194° Powered by Onion and Williamson creeks, bread lovers rejoiced when Thomas McKinney established one of the first flour mills in the region here in 1852.
Smith Family Picnic Area 30.1880° -97.7183° Have a picnic at the table of the Smith family, who purchased McKinney's land in 1885 and donated over 600 acres to the state of Texas and all of you in the 1970s.
List of Points of Interest

Staying Safe

  • Know your limits. Prepare for sun and heat. Wear sunscreen, insect repellent and appropriate clothing/hiking shoes.
  • Drink plenty of water. Your body quickly loses fluids when you’re on the trail. Bring a quart of water per hour of activity. Don’t forget water for your dog, too!
  • Tell others where you’ll be. If possible, avoid exploring alone. Tell someone where you are going and when you plan to return.
  • Wear a helmet when biking. Check with park HQ to match the ride to your skill level. Wear a helmet to protect yourself in case of a crash. No biking is permitted on the Picnic or Rock Shelter trails.
  • Wear a life jacket. Rivers and creeks can be unpredictable. We strongly suggest that all swimmers wear a life jacket to prevent drowning.
  • Potentially harmful plants and animals live here. You’ll see them more easily if you stay on trails.
  • Stick to the trail. Leaving the trail makes it harder for future hikers to pick the right path, and hurts habitat for plants and animals.

Trail Etiquette

  • Trash your trash. Keep the park natural. Pack out all of your trash and Leave No Trace. Picnics allowed only in designated areas.
  • Leave feeding to nature. Feeding wild animals will make them sick and more likely to harm people.
  • Take only memories and pictures. Please don’t disturb or remove any of the park’s plants, animals or artifacts. No need to leave your mark here.
  • We need to know about your caches. Please check with park HQ before placing geocaches within the park.
  • Campfires are permitted only in designated rings due to potential for ground scarring and wildfires.
  • Keep pets on leashes and out of the water for their safety, and to protect wildlife.