This is another park run by the Lower Colorado River Authority. The LCRA is basically an electric/water company, and they control the dams on the Colorado. But the LCRA has developed about 36 parks in the Colorado watershed from Lake Buchanan to Matagorda Bay on the Gulf of Mexico. They operate 18 of these parks themselves and 18 are “Vendor” operated which could mean anything from a resort to a city or county park. The parks total about 11,000 acres in total although many are merely boat ramps and picnic areas.
McKinney Roughs is one of the largest at 1100 acres. It is run exclusively by the LCRA and is their centerpiece. This park has it all from the longest dual cable zip line in Texas to overnight accommodations for 122 people in five large dormitories, for special events.
It also has electric UTV tours, allows horseback riding and Colorado River Kayak tours.
When we first moved to Texas in 2018 this was the second place I went to hike. It was a muddy mess my feet feeling like I was carrying bricks strapped to them. I had no fun took no pictures and ended the hike quickly; swore I was never coming back. Now four years later I came here for one of the most diverse hikes I have had in Texas.
I started out on Bobcat Ridge. I was headed for the Yaupon Trail the longest in the park at 4.5 miles. Outside of staying next to a major highway for way to long this trail had a lot of elevation gain as it took you up onto the ridges along the Colorado.
Elevations here topped out at around 700 feet, but we hikers know it is not elevation but prominence that matters. These hills rose on average 200 feet from the valley below, along the river even more.
This was I guess a semi-urban hike. Located 13 miles from Austin’s Airport it was sufficiently rural but there was still population around from the small city of Cedar Creek.
The Yaupon Trail was edged with a great number of Yaupon. Yaupon is a small tree or bush of the Holly family. Although the bright red berries look attractive, they are toxic to humans, although they are a feast for birds and other wildlife.
The Yaupon Trail ended at what is known as the Pope Bend Road Trailhead. I now took the Roadrunner Trail for a short distance to the Buckeye Trail.
This trail took me to the Pecan Bottoms where I saw the “Giant Pecan Tree(s)”. I say trees because although there was a specific tree, I saw the largest Pecan Trees I have ever seen.
I saw eight or ten pecans that were of similar size.
Finally, the river!
I found Coyote Road the trail that was going to hook me into the trails on the other side of the park. Although red (closed) on the map the lady at the visitor center told me I could easily get through the large ravine as reported by other hikers. The ravine was quite steep on both sides and had a soggy bottom. I think they don’t want casual, inexperienced hikers down in there.
After crossing this fairly easy obstacle I arrived at the riverside trail.
After a few minutes at the river, I headed up the Bluff Overlook Loop, the longest steepest climb of the day.
I ended up at the Ridge Overlook.
And just for perspective on the size of the place here is the water tower from the Ridge Overlook.
Unlike my first trip here I had a thoroughly enjoyable hike. I’ll hit this one more often!