While the city of Austin is famous for its craft breweries, live music venues, and keeping it weird, many people forget that the city is also home to some stunning natural areas. Although some people choose to stay in the city’s downtown and urban areas, venturing out into the wilderness reaps many rewards. An afternoon at Mount Bonnell is one of the many ways to go out and explore the natural beauty of Austin.
Often cited as the highest point in Austin, Mount Bonnell sits at 775 feet above sea level. Although that may not seem like a very high elevation, and it isn’t, it is high enough that hiking to the top affords some amazing views of the city, the Colorado River, and the surrounding wilderness. In 1939, the Covert family gifted the land of Mount Bonnell to Travis County, where the city of Austin resides, to use as a city park. To commemorate their donation, this site is also known by many locals as Covert Park.
Mount Bonnell gets its name from George W. Bonnell, who came to Texas in 1836 to help fight for Texas’s independence. The Mount sits alongside what was believed to be an Indian trail in and out of Austin. Although George Bonnell died in battle in 1842, Mount Bonnell bears his name and the legacy of an independent Texas. Famous frontiersman Bigfoot Wallace once took refuge in a cave on Mount Bonnell, which only adds to the legendary status of the mountain. Once the conflict settled down, Mount Bonnell became a popular picnic spot in the 1850’s and 1860’s, as it is today.
To reach the top of Mount Bonnell, visitors take a 105-step staircase up to the overlook area. For an experienced hiker, this climb is probably no problem, but a novice may want to be sure to bring comfortable shoes and water. However, the somewhat arduous journey is surely worth the trip, as you will be rewarded with breathtaking views of the Colorado River and the city below. Many people choose to bring a lunch and eat while taking in the views. Although the journey is not stroller friendly due to all the steps, dogs are allowed as long as they are leashed. The top of Mount Bonnell is the perfect place to spend an afternoon taking in the site of Austin! Check out the Austin and Texas Hill Country Small Group Tour. Enjoy the Austin in a Nutshell Bike Tour!