- 1940, 1980, 1993
- Historic Status:
- National Register of Historic Places, Texas Historic Landmark, Austin Landmark
Alongside the Lake Austin portion of the Colorado River lies the highest point within the city of Austin: Mount Bonnell. With an elevation of 775 feet above sea level, the peak has been a popular tourist spot since the 1850s. Mount Bonnell sits within Covert Park, a 5.36-acre nature preserve that was donated to the City of Austin in the 1930s.
Mount Bonnell is a unique feature within the Austin landscape: a high cliff overlook reached by a steep limestone stairway that ascends up the hillside through a dense thicket of trees. From the moment you step foot onto the 102 stone steps, you are welcomed by nature. The ceremonial climb concludes with unparalleled views of the surrounding landscape.
Mount Bonnell is generally believed to have been named after the Texas newspaper publisher George W. Bonnell, who moved to Texas in 1836, and would document his observations while traveling the frontier. In 1939, the park was deeded by the Covert family to the city; 30 years later, it became a landmark of the State of Texas. At the hillcrest, a carved limestone monument stands on a star-shaped plaza, commemorating Covert’s donation. A rustic arbor, stone picnic tables, and a few retaining walls are the only other improvements; the remainder of the parkland retains its naturalistic character of rocky outcrops of limestone interspersed with cedar, live oak, and mountain laurels.
Many local legends about Mount Bonnell have formed throughout the years, including one stating that if a couple climbs to the top of the summit, they will fall in love. If they return for a second climb, they will become engaged. And if they return a third time, they will marry. Nowadays, Mount Bonnell is filled with hiking enthusiasts, family gatherings, romantic getaways, and more than anything, a reminder of the beauty that nature provides if we take the time to appreciate its perspective. – Francisco Rosales