Central Texas is a heavenly place to be for those that love the outdoors – and waterfalls seekers are sure to be delighted with how many waterfalls there are in Austin, Texas! Ever since we moved to Texas, I have been on a quest to visit as many waterfalls in Austin as I can!
From short hikes to long ones, to those right outside of the parking lot, our list below is sure to help you locate all your new favorite cascades. If you are willing to head out the city on a scenic drive (which we HIGHLY recommend!), there are even more options listed below for other fabulous waterfalls near Austin as well.
Open hours vary depending on the season, so be sure to check for current information before visiting. Many of the waterfalls below also require reservations, so check before leaving.
Just like in other areas, these waterfalls in Austin are affected significantly by rainfall. If the weather is dry enough, they may dry up completely. Swimming is available at many of these falls, but if water levels are low, the algae causes danger levels of bacteria in the water, so please check current conditions before visiting.
WHAT TO BRING TO AN AUSTIN WATERFALL?
Plenty of water. The Texas sun is a beast and plenty of water to hydrated is an absolute must.
Sunscreen. Referencing back to the intense sun, protect your skin with sunscreen and hat!
Good Shoes. Hiking boots are not required, but most of these falls in Austin require at least a short hike to access the water, and flip slops and slippery limestone are not a good mix.
Swimming Gear. Depending on water levels, many of these falls offer charming swimming holes nearby. You may want to add some sort of water shoe to your bag for foot protection on the sharp rocks and slippery stones.
A picnic. Some of these Austin waterfalls in do not allow food near the water (due to guests not removing their trash unfortunately), but you WILL likely want to stay longer than planned so keep your cooler lunch in the car so you don’t have to leave before you have to!
AMAZING AUSTIN TEXAS WATERFALLS
McKinney Falls State Park boasts two beautiful waterfalls that include an Austin address. The water flow varies significantly depending on the time of year and if you visit in both the fall and spring, you may be convinced that you have visited two different places!
Visitors frequently jump from the rocks above the falls, but please due your due diligence in checking depth before partaking in this activity.
The Upper Falls is located down a short path from the Smith Visitor Center Parking lot. It is funneled by Onion Creek and is about 15 feet high.
Many visitors end up at the Upper Falls by default, but we are bigger fans of the Lower Falls. A few minutes trek across the rocks lead you to a beautiful shaded area, perfect for spreading out a blanket and spending the afternoon at this beautiful Austin beach. The bank has an easier slope into the water making it much more family-friendly for young ones. A creek leads from the waterfall pool as well adding a fun spot to play for curious children.
As this is a State Park, an admission fee applies unless you have a Texas State Parks pass. Advance reservations are also highly recommended for pass holders and non-pass holders in as parking spots can do sell out quite frequently. No food or drink (water is okay) is allowed down by the Falls. Please leave all coolers in the car and head up to the picnic area for a lunch break in between swimming and cliff jumping sessions.
Hamilton Pool Preserve
Perhaps the most iconic of all the Austin waterfalls, Hamilton Pool is a stunning display of nature.The Preserve is a collapsed grotto made of overlying limestone that creates a cave as the lower rock erodes with floods.
The pool is about 25 feet deep and is open to swimming when water levels and safety allow. The trail to access the pool is only a ¼ mile long,, but is pretty narrow and rugged and will take approximately 15 minutes each way.
It is important to note, that as of the time of this article, the beach near the waterfalls were open with reservations https://parks.traviscountytx.gov/parks/hamilton-pool-preserve/#reservations, but the section of the trail that goes under the waterfall under the cliff overhang is was closed due to safety concerns.
Twin Falls Austin
Twin Falls is a part of the Barton Creek Greenbelt that runs through South Austin. There are several access points along the greenbelt, and these falls are are accessed via the Twin Falls access point. Parking is available right along the highway, Loop 1. Parking can fill up on peak days.
This popular trail runs downhill along the creek and through the forest. The trail is only about .5 miles long but is a rocky and uneven path. This is a popular spot to swim when water levels are high enough.
Sculpture Falls is also part of the Barton Creek Greenbelt and is accessed via the same trailhead at Twin Falls. Once passing Twin Falls, Sculpture Falls is just over a mile further along the trail. These beautiful falls provide a relaxing view and are also a popular swimming spot, but the water will only flow when rainfall has been sufficient.
St. Edwards Park
BEAUTIFUL WATERFALLS NEAR AUSTIN
These falls are within an hour drive of Austin are worth every extra minute of travel (and gallon of gas!).
Pedernales Falls is located in Pedernales Falls State Park. So an admission fee applies unless you have a Texas State Parks pass. Advance reservations are also highly recommended for pass holders and non-pass holders in as parking spots can do sell out quite frequently.
Just 30 miles from Austin, this park has 23 miles of hiking trails, plenty of space for picnicking, swimming holes, and the main waterfall accessed via a ¼ mile steep trail. Swimming near the falls is not permitted, but other areas along the river are usually calm enough for swimming.
Everyone has a favorite spot, and Krause Springs is one of ours. This privately owned natural springs is a true gem in the Austin area. Outfitted with beautiful stone stairs and picnic area, gardens with wind chimes, a natural spring fed swimming pool, and natural springs at the lower end of the property, the waterfall here is just icing on the cake.
This peaceful spot will make you think you are hundreds of miles from the city when you are just an hour away. Pack a picnic and plan to stay all day. And bring your floaties – they have an air pump ready for you to use! Bring your cash; admission fees apply.
Pro tip: They drain and clean the pool every Thursday in the early evening. So if you want an evening swim, plan for another day. The water will also be cleanest on Fridays.
This spring-fed waterfall near Austin is located in Colorado Bend State Park (reservations and admission fee or annual pass required). Requiring a 2.8 mile hike, this 70 foot waterfall is located in a mossy wonderland with a sweet little cave nearby.
The trail is flat, but rocky, and without much shade, so don’t forget your water and sunscreen. There is a cable to assist you toward the end as the limestone is slippery.
Like most of these waterfalls, the Spring will grant you a more substantial waterfall than late summer or fall. Bonus is the wildflowers along the hike in late March and April.
Crockett Gardens and Falls
This waterfall is one of the most beautiful things to do in nearby Georgetown, but it won’t be one of the easiest! Accessed by either a 7.6 mile round trip trail or by a 20 minute kayak ride (the water has to be high to accomplish this!), the effort will pay off when you experience this refreshing waterfall near Austin. The terrain is a bit hilly and rocky, but the trail isn’t too tough. I just wouldn’t recommend it on a summer day! Pack your water bottle for sure!
The trailhead begins from Cedar Breaks Park which requires a reservation here.