Yesterday we threw our bikes in the car, packed up a picnic lunch and put on our swim suits to spend the day at McKinney Falls State Park.
We arrived early (around 10am), and it was still cool enough for a nice bike ride.
The Onion Creek Hike and Bike trail is a three mile asphalt path around the perimeter of the park. We are not expert bikers, so this was a perfect distance for us. The trail was mostly shaded, so it wasn't too warm, and it had some nice benches to stop along the way. I have a road bike with thin tires, and I was a little nervous going over the rough spots, but on a typical hybrid or mountain bike, this trail would be absolutely no problem!
After we finished our bike ride, we packed our water bottles and headed down to the Lower McKinney Falls. It is about a half mile hike to get to the lower falls from the Upper Fall parking lot. There is a hidden path to the right of the lower falls to get down to the "beach" area at the bottom of the falls. The boys had a wonderful time digging in the rocks, catching frogs and attempting to catch the huge pollywogs.
After about an hour, we packed up to go. Although on previous visits we have taken the long hike around the homestead, we were hungry and hot, and decided instead to head back to the car for lunch. But if you've never taken the homestead trail, on a cooler day, it is very pretty!
Right above the upper falls are some nice shaded picnic tables that were perfect for lunch.
After we ate, we traipsed across the falls and down to the beach area of the Upper Falls, where we hung out for another hour or so.
Some thoughts and tips: Right now both falls are just a trickle, but the water is still moving. Due to the warm water and drought, I have made the rule that the boys can get in the water up to their chin, but they cannot get their head wet (meningitis is just scary!). The park takes a water sample every week, and as of this week, the bacteria levels are within safe levels, but it never hurts to be careful!
Also, we did not bring our fishing gear, but there are some nice fishing spots along the Onion Creek Trail. Next time, we will be sure to bring our rods!
Definitely bring lunch and lots of water. The hike down to the lower falls is short enough that a backpack with lunch supplies wouldn't be too cumbersome.
Finally, there is a nice visitor center near the Upper Falls parking lot. The center is closed mid-week, but on previous visits we have stopped in and had a good time.