The Lower Colorado River Authority is an electric company first and foremost. They provide power to people all over Texas, but one thing that most people don’t know is that they operate a pretty rad park system in Texas too. McKinney Roughs Nature Park is the first of the 20 parks/recreation areas that will be featured.
McKinney Roughs Nature Park is about 13-miles east of the Austin Bergstrom Int’l Airport just off of Highway 71 and is one of my favorite places to hike in central Texas.
It features over 1100 acres of hiking, horseback riding, and zip-lining. It does have lodging in the form of a hostel, and there are also various facilities you can rent including an amphitheater, meeting rooms, the Colorado Vista Pavilion, and Wildflower Hall.
I’ve been numerous times when there was a field trip going on. It can seem a bit daunting with a ton of school kids, but it’s fine. They’re there to learn and have fun just like you!
McKinney Roughs features a whopping 20 trails, but realistically most of them are really short spurs. You’re really going to be combining multiple trails to get a solid hike in.
There are three mountain bike difficulty ratings here: Easy, More Difficult, Very Difficult. I found that these apply to hiking for the Very Difficult as the terrain changes fairly drastically. And depending on which direction you go the elevation gain can get a little, ahem, rough. I hiked towards the zip line area, and the upward hiking almost did me in one summer.
There are seven ‘scenic points’ at McKinney Roughs: Valley View, Bluff Trail Overlook, Overlook at Meditation Point, Giant Pecan Tree, Riverside Rapids (I’ve gone multiple times and I’m still not sure what these are supposed to be), Pine Ridge Overlook (My personal fave), and Pine Canyon.
My favorite section is the Riverside trail because you’re right on the Colorado River, and there is just something so calming about standing there and watching the water flow.
The zip lining is hosted by Zip Lost Pines and they’re open Thursday-Monday by reservation only. Click here to learn more about what they offer.