Zip Along Trails at McKinney Roughs Nature Park

McKinney Roughs Nature Park contains many amenities and more than 1,100 acres along the Colorado River. It’s part of a network managed by the Lower Colorado River Authority in Cedar Creek, Texas. Our activity of choice is dog friendly hiking, but McKinney Roughs has several other unique things to do near Austin.

Abbey surveys the river at McKinney Roughs Nature Park near Austin.
The Colorado River at McKinney Roughs

McKinney Roughs Nature Park Amenities

  • Walk your dog
  • Hike, bike, or ride your horse on designated trails
  • Fish the Colorado River
  • Lodging and group activities on the river
  • Take the zip line tour

There are at least 20 short trails at McKinney Roughs. The two longest trails are less than three miles. Most trails are fairly easy to hike, but there are significant twists and turns throughout the park. All trails are dog friendly, but horseback riding is limited in a few areas. You will hike at least 17 miles by following every trail in the park.

McKinney Roughs Trail Map

How to Get to McKinney Roughs

Address: 1884 TX-71, Cedar Creek, TX 78612

Fees: $5 per person, $12 per horse and rider

McKinney Roughs Nature Park is open from 8am – 5pm everyday. There is a fee of $5 per adult visitor, not including horses. A horse and rider will cost $12 to enter the park. Unfortunately, they do not accept the Texas State Parks Pass because it is an LCRA park. The zip line tour is not included in the price of admission. You can access McKinney Roughs by using highway 71, which is a very short distance from Austin.

Trails at McKinney Roughs Nature Park

McKinney Roughs is located along the west side of the Colorado River. There are two trails which run alongside the river – Riverside and Deep Sandy. We followed Riverside which is accessible from the HQ parking lot. Riverside is a mile and a half long, but only follows the river for about half a mile.

We did not see anyone rafting, but we did pass two horseback riders and their dog. Although the trail is wide enough to allow passing, we stepped aside to let the riders pass because the horses take up a lot of ground and the dog was off leash. In their defense it is probably not possible to keep a dog on leash while riding a horse. Their pup took a second to acknowledge ours and continued his hike.

Horseback riders on the Riverside Trail with their dog

The Water Tower

One of the most significant structures we noticed while hiking McKinney Roughs is the water tower. It is located on the southwest side of the park near Highway 71. Upon setting out from the HQ, the water tower appeared to be miles away.

We continued to notice it during the hike from various distances, and trails. Elevation changes are not high enough to see much outside of the park. However, there are many small changes in elevation along the trails, as well as a few scenic views.

McKinney Roughs Zip Line

On the east side of the park you will notice Lost Pines Zip Line Tours. They are the only dual zip line tour in Texas. We did not take advantage of the zip line on our first visit, but may do so in the future. The zip line tour requires a reservation and lasts about 2-3 hours. You may see McKinney Roughs hikers while using the zip line, or vice versa.

One of the overlooks at McKinney Roughs Nature Park.
Point of interest 3 – meditation point

Points of Interest at McKinney Roughs Nature Park

Each point of interest is found near the riverside of the park. Four of them are scenic views, one is a large pecan tree, another is the fast flowing Colorado River, and the final point is Pine Canyon. The canyon is separated from Pine Ridge by the Lost Pines Welcome Center.

We found it difficult to see anything significant from the scenic views because the hills do not rise very high, and the trails are guarded by many trees. Of course, we did notice the water tower at several points.

Riverside Trail

The West Side

The majority of our hike at McKinney Roughs took place on the west side. We took the Riverside Trail to get close to the water, and headed toward the Yaupon Loop which (confusingly) has two other names. In total, the loop is nearly five miles, and is the longest trail in the park (if you exclude the three different names).

The Yaupon trail is not very remarkable. It provides access to the trails on the north side near the river, but there isn’t much to see besides that water tower. The wide trail appears to have been made by a bulldozer. We did not see any horses on the loop, but there was a significant amount of manure.

On the far west side, the Yaupon Trail runs between two roads, and the noise pollution is very noticeable. Even though sections of the trail appear relatively straight on the map, it seemed to be littered with changes in direction while hiking. We spotted a javelina in the woods which made a quick exit. Sadly, I was unable to get a photo of the wild animal which had the appearance of a small black bear from the rear.

The Water Tower (part 2)

After the encounter with the javelina we continued along the Yaupon Trail. We hiked several miles through McKinney Roughs and finally reached the water tower. We had no idea we would see it up close, but there it was in all of its glory. The tower is noticeable at several positions around the park. Even though it appeared to be many miles away, we reached it by following the trails west.

I continued to scan the woods and fields for more wildlife. However, the javelina was the only animal we noticed until we returned to the HQ. A lone deer was taking advantage of the water trough near the trailhead. It quickly trotted off as we finished our hike.

The bird blind at McKinney Roughs Nature Park.
Bird watching area near the HQ

More Things to Do

Our total hiking distance was eight miles at McKinney Roughs, which is nearly half the total amount available – 17 miles. There is much to do inside the park, and plenty of trails to keep you busy for a day or two. When we return we will focus on hiking the eastern trails near the zip line, Pine Canyon and Colorado River.

Things to do in Austin, Texas

Across from the Lost Pines Zip Line Tour there is a doggy day camp in case you need to have your dog watched while you use the zip lines. A Dinosaur Park is right down Highway 71 to the west of McKinney Roughs. The outdoor park has life sized dinosaur statues, a playground and gift shop.

Lake Bastrop Park is another LCRA park a short trip down the Colorado River. In fact, there are many other things to do in Austin, along the river. How many of those have you done?

I’m a certified personal trainer in San Antonio. After adopting Abbey, I created Places for Pups to help you get outside, exercise with your dog and have fun doing it.

We have mastered hiking in Texas Hill Country. Though we emerge from the woods unharmed, we are not responsible for you or your pets. You are solely responsible for trying exercises, or places discussed on this site.

Grab the best hiking gear and go dog friendly.  I wish you good fortune on the trails to come.


David Earley


5 1 vote
Article Rating

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments