The location: McKinney Falls State Park in Austin, Texas
McKinney Falls State Park is nestled within the city limits of Austin, Texas, just 13 miles from the state capital. This piece of hill country offers camping, hiking, biking, fishing, and even swimming in Onion Creek. The park is known for its two waterfalls, Old Baldy, and fields of bluebonnets.
The story: best camping in Austin
When our family decided to visit Austin, we were overwhelmed by the cost of camping compared to other Texas cities. McKinney offered reasonable prices, a sense of privacy, and a lush environment far superior to an RV park. We enjoyed easy walks along the paved Onion Creek Trail, afternoon shade under the live oaks, and the unexpected “super bloom” of wildflowers.
Where to take photos: Lower Falls
While we enjoyed shooting at Upper Falls and along the trail to the rock shelter, we found Lower Falls to be the most photogenic spot in McKinney Falls. Hike a quarter-mile to Lower Falls, where Onion Creek spills over a limestone ledge for the best shots in the park.
There are several angles from which to shoot the falls, even more if you’re willing to get wet. The rough texture of the rock provides great contrast to the moving water, especially if you bring a tripod and lengthen your exposure. Try using a neutral density filter to keep shots from getting blown out. Morning light will illuminate the falls better than evening.
The gear: Canon
These photos of McKinney Falls State Park were taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark II, with either a Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L telephoto lens or Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L wide lens, both with a polarizing filter or neutral density filter.
All images are copyright of Josh Schaulis and may not be reproduced or used in any way without written permission.