Being the Capital of Texas with live music scenes, mouth watering Tex-Mex, and the Longhorns football team isn't the only thing Austin is known for. Mount Bonnell is another one of its marvels with a long history and legends all its own. Tourists revel in the majestic view seen from the highest peak in Austin and locals take advantage of the hiking through the man made dusty trails consisting of pebbles and rocks that entwine with surrounding trees. A tourist attraction since the 1850's, 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. Many come for the view, some come for the stories.
In the 1830s the nickname Antonette's Leap was given to the grand peak when a young woman leaped to her death to escape Indians. Another legend about a woman named Golden Nell off the peak in an effort to avoid being captured and tortured. As legends have it, if a couple makes it to the top together they will be husband and wife someday. Of course these are only legends.
At 785 feet above sea level, Mount Bonnell sits along the banks of the lake and among vast hills for anyone to view in amazement. Paved roads make it easy to get to Mount Bonnell off FM 2222 in Austin, just past Camp Mabry, the local military base. When you arrive you will find is parking 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.
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. Once at the top, a stone built pavilion awaits you, with rock slabs that serve as seating and allows you to sit and catch your breath from the walk up or where you can then sit to enjoy the sunset, take in the views, or simply have a picnic.
Trails to the northeast allow you to walk down to large rock formations where you are able to overlook the banks of the lake. Looking down one realizes how steep the sides are, but looking across the lake at homes nestled into the tree filled hillside you somehow forget it. Iron fencing protects patrons from falling over the edge so it makes it a prime location for family outings. To the southwest of the mountain are longer, more extending 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.
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. It definitely adds a wonderful addition to the city's skyline but to Austinites, Mount Bonnell offers more than spectacular views of the waters below, the vastness of a wooded area, and dirt paved hiking trails; it also offers pride in the history to which Mount Bonnell originated from.