Mount Bonnell – Austin History, Legends and Views in One Spot

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It may seem a little crazy to go hiking in the hot Texas summer, but if you can stand the heat the summer months can be a perfect time to visit an iconic Austin spot without any crowds. Even though it is 780 feet above sea level, the climb up to the top of Mount Bonnell is not a serious hike, especially with the stone steps along the way.

Mount Bonnell, like so many favorite Austin spots, is full of history as well as legends. The peak is named in honor of George W. Bonnell, a Texas publisher and Commissioner on Indian Affairs under Sam Houston. The peak and surrounding park land off FM 2222, which is actually called Covert Park, was donated to the city in 1939, one hundred years after Bonnell arrived in Austin. That’s the history part; the legends and folklore are much more whimsical.

The legend goes that a young woman jumped off the peak to escape the Indians who had killed her finance, which is why Mount Bonnell is also known as “Antonette’s Leap.” Another legend has it that Golden Nell and her husband Beau leaped off the peak to avoid being captured and tortured.

Romance is often in the air at Mount Bonnell. It is said that if a couple climbs the long stairway to the top once they will fall in love, twice they will become engaged and if they make that climb a third time they will get married. Going at sunset or to see the stars above the city lights is a popular Austin date. It is a romantic spot that has seen many Austin couples get engaged.

A tourist attraction since the 1850s, Mount Bonnell has a pavilion at the top with picnic tables, making it a popular spot to pack a cooler and bring the camera for tourists and locals alike. The views of lakes, hills and cityscapes are amazing. The rugged Hill Country views to the west and the manicured lawns below the peak show the diversity of the Austin landscape at its best.

Hiking around the pavilion can allow visitors to take in different views, including the downtown skyline. For anyone wanting to show an out-of-towner just what Austin has to offer, this is the perfect spot.

If a someone is looking for a tougher hike, Enchanted Rock State Natural Area out towards Fredericksburg offers challenging hikes, along with a nice drive through the Hill Country. Shade is sparse on this granite dome, so hikers may want to wait until summer is over. McKinney Falls State Park is a little closer to Austin and offers climbs, as well as cool water for hikers more interested in nature than the view.

Source by Ki Gray