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Mount Bonnell in Austin, Texas

Updated on October 28, 2016
Plenty of resting area to enjoy the view from Mount Bonnell
Plenty of resting area to enjoy the view from Mount Bonnell | Source

Welcome to Austin

Being the Capital of Texas isn't the only thing Austin, Texas is known for.

Home to the best BBQ and authentic Tex-Mex. Being the Live Music Capitol of the World. Oh yeah and of course home of the Longhorns Football Teams. Then there are all the luxury hotels, fine dining in Downtown Austin and more sightseeing than you can "shake a stick at".

But one Austin attraction few know about is Mount Bonnell; the highest point of Austin and full of it's own history.

To outsiders, Mount Bonnell can be considered just another beautiful landscape in Austin that was here long before its citizens claimed it as a park and adds a wonderful addition to the city's skyline.

To Austinites, Mount Bonnell offers more than grand views of the waters below, the vastness of a wooded area, and dirt paved hiking trails; it also offers pride in the Texas history to which Mount Bonnell originated from.

The view from the top of Mount Bonnell
The view from the top of Mount Bonnell | Source

History of Mount Bonnell

Before it was known as Mount Bonnell; "Antonette's Leap" was the name bestowed upon the highest peak in the area.

In the 1830's a young woman by the name of Antonette leapt to her death after her fiancé was killed by a local Indian tribe. In order to escape her own demise at the hands of her soon-to-be husband's killers, she jumped from the high peak to join her love.

Legends also pass down a story of Mrs. Golden Nell and her husband who lept to their deaths in order to avoid being captured and tortured, they left behind a lover's superstition. To this day the legend is any couple that makes it to the top together are destined to be married.

Of course these are only legends but even the history books seem to conflict with one another.

The Texas history books show that in 1836, a man by the name of George Bonnell, moved to Austin and in honor of his role in early Texas and Travis county affairs the mountain would be named after him.

But, in the 2000s an Austin lawyer by the name of Seldon Graham Jr. wrote that Mount Bonnell may have been named after Joseph Bonnell who was a forgotten war hero.

Public records show in 2008 a man by the name of Steven Bonnell, not related to either Bonnell, offered a $200 reward to anyone that could provide proof that the mountain was actually named after George Bonnell and not just hearsay. Definitive proof has yet to be offered as to why the mountain was named after Mr. George Bonnell.

In 2011, Austin Statesmanreported that West Point Society sued the Texas Historical Commission over the wrong information being imprinted on the plaque that stands at Mount Bonnell honoring the Bonnell they believe the mountain was named after. They believe the name given the mountain was intended for Joseph Bonnell.

History books still show Mount Bonnell was actually named after George and not Joseph, but what very few people would know is that the actual name of the highest peak is legally named Covert Park, which was named after the man who owned the land, Frank M. Covert Sr., who then dedicated it to the City of Austin in 1939.

Do You Like to Hike?

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A very foggy view of Downtown Austin from the top of Mount Bonnell ~ it was early in the day when I went
A very foggy view of Downtown Austin from the top of Mount Bonnell ~ it was early in the day when I went | Source

Hiking in Austin, Texas

Tourists come from all over to revel in the majestic view seen from the highest peak in Austin and locals take pleasure in hiking the mountain.

The man made rock steps make it a breeze to get up the mountain if you aren't in the mood for hiking through the wooded areas. Dusty trails, made of pebbles and rocks, entwine with the surrounding trees making it easier to get around.

Trails to the northeast allow you to walk down to large rock formations where you are able to overlook the banks of the Colorado River. Looking down, you'll realize how steep the sides are, but looking across Lake Austin, at homes nestled in the tree filled hillsides, you somehow forget how high up you are.

Iron fencing protects patrons from falling over the edge so it makes it a prime location for family outings in Austin.

To the southwest of the mountain are longer, more extended trails that allow visitors to hike any time of day. Through these trails, which are often not over populated with visitors, even more spectacular scenery awaits.

No matter the destination once at the top, not only the hike up, but the natural landscapes will take your breath away.

The view from the top of Mount Bonnell
The view from the top of Mount Bonnell | Source

The View From Mount Bonnell

A tourist attraction since the 1850s, many have climbed the steep side of the mountain just for a moment to take in the scenery. Once you are at the top, you have the view of Lake Austin , the hill country, and downtown Austin that awaits you.

At 785 feet above sea level, or roughly four miles above the city, Mount Bonnell sits along the banks of Lake Austin and the vast hills for anyone to view in amazement.

Getting to the top today is much easier with white stone steps seemingly carved out of the side of Mount Bonnell leading your way through full green woods to those spectacular views. There is a stone built pavilion awaiting you at the top, with rock slabs that serve as seating. Take a moment to catch your breath from the walk upm enjoy a lovely picnic or sit and enjoy the sunrise or sunset.

The views alone make the hike worth it.

Getting to Mount Bonnell

Paved roads make it easy to get to Mount Bonnell off FM 2222 in Austin, just past Camp Mabry, the local military base. The actual address is 3800 Mount Bonnel Road in Austin, TX.

There you will find a parking lot provided at the base of the mountain which allows for easy access to the stone steps that take you to the top of the peak.

A historical plaque posted near parking gives visitors a little history about the highest peak of Austin so you'll know you are in the right place.

You can also call the hotline at (512) 974-6700 for additional information.

Directions to Mount Bonnell

A marker3800 Mt Bonnell Rd, Austin, TX 78731 -
3800 Mount Bonnell Road, Austin, TX 78731, USA
get directions

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    • sydneyspence profile image

      Sydney Spence 4 years ago from Austin Texas

      Thank you for taking the time to read my hub bravewarrior!!

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 4 years ago from Central Florida

      Thanx for sharing with us, Sydney. What a view!

    • sydneyspence profile image

      Sydney Spence 4 years ago from Austin Texas

      @Austinstar my goodness that would be scary to visit before the railing. I'm afraid of heights so there is no way I could have gone if there were no railing lol. Thanks for the comment!!

    • Austinstar profile image

      Lela 4 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

      We visited Mt. Bonnell 20 years ago when we first moved to the Austin area. It had no railing then. I remember several people falling or jumping from the top and it was indeed scary then.

      I should revisit the park to see the changes. Thanks for the memories!

    • sydneyspence profile image

      Sydney Spence 4 years ago from Austin Texas

      Thanks bill! And for the comment as well!

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I actually have a friend who is thinking of moving to Austin. I'll pass this along to her as she is devouring information about that area right now. Thanks for the tour.

    • sydneyspence profile image

      Sydney Spence 4 years ago from Austin Texas

      Joe thank you so much for the comment and reading my hub! I know what you mean, the last place people think about when thinking of Texas is Austin lol :)

    • hawaiianodysseus profile image

      Hawaiian Odysseus 4 years ago from Southeast Washington state

      If I'm ever in the area, Sydney, I'm definitely hiking Mt. Bonnell, no matter whom it's named after. : ) Simply beautiful! Thank you for sharing this very interesting article and the lovely complementary photos! When I hear about Texas, I'm compelled by sheer habit to think of Dallas or Houston (because they've both been promoted in TV series and movies). It's refreshing to hear about Austin, Sydney! Aloha!