A cold front blew into the area early Sunday morning (March 24, 2013). For the next two days, temperatures remained cool and winds high, making it unpleasant to be outside. In fact, early morning temps were dipping close to freezing Monday and Tuesday. But Tuesday promised sunshine and low winds, so we decided to journey about 20 miles up the road from our camp in Lockhart and visit McKinney Falls State Park, on the southern outskirts of Austin.
The centerpiece of McKinney Falls is Onion Creek and the two small waterfalls on the limestone bed of that creek. The creek itself was not much more than a trickle. I’m sure that there are times that the creek is much more imposing, as evidenced by the exposed limestone that abounds near the creek. Numerous people were exploring the area, including 2 busloads of students from area schools.
|Exposed limestone expanse along Onion Creek, which is barely visible in left-center of picture. Also note Homestead in right part of picture among the trees.|
|Lower Falls of Onion Creek. Water flow is very low due to drought.|
After viewing the lower falls, we picked our way across the creek and hiked the 2.75 mile Homestead Trail, which is simply a loop trail that passes an old grist mill and the McKinney homestead.
|Our first glimpse of the Homestead through the trees.|
|Thomas McKinney built this house in the late 1840s. He was an active player in the early days of Texas.|
|The Upper Falls|
|One of the rivulets forming the Upper Falls|
|The Smith Visitor Center near the Upper Falls|
As we got to the upper falls area, we saw no fewer than 10 emergency and rescue vehicles in that parking lot, all for a single person who had suffered what we heard was a broken leg. Most of the rescue personnel were standing around in small groups chatting.
We drove through the rest of the park, looking at the camping areas. The park is heavily wooded with good hiking trails. There appear to be no full hookups except for hosts. A handful of shelters are available. Trailer spaces seem to be rather small. We saw many that were wedged in among the trees, and I wondered how a few had been able to park their trailers where they were.