Mount Bonnell (Covert Park)

Mount Bonnell (Covert Park)

As told by
Rooster
Mount Bonnell has been THE place to take your out-of-towners who come visit. Its spectacular, breath-taking panoramic views make for a special outing, and great way to show-off our city.
Price:
FREE
Best time of day:
Anytime

What everyone knows

Most people know this attraction is free and open from dawn to dusk, however they most likely don’t know the history of the area.

What they don't tell you

I bet you didn’t know... Legend has it that Mount Bonnell was once called Antoinette’s Leap, after a young woman who leaped to her death to avoid being captured by Native Americans who had killed her fiancé. As a stunt for entertainment purposes, Hazel Keyes, trailed by her monkey “Miss Jennie Yan Yan”, slid down a cable stretched from the top of Mt. Bonnell to the south bank of the lake below in 1898. When the Civil War ended, General Armstrong Custer and his wife spent leisure time at the summit of Mount Bonnell. There, the couple discovered that the primitive trail leading to the summit was too steep for their cavalry horses, so they blazed the trail by foot. Lastly, legend says that if a couple ascends to the summit of Mount Bonnell they will fall in love. The second visit to the summit will result in engagement, and marriage will be the outcome on the third visit to the top!

Do it like a local

When you’re done exploring Mt. Bonnell, be sure to head down the street to visit the free ranging peacocks at Mayfield Park & Nature Reserve, and the adjacent Laguna Gloria Museum. Both are located right on the shores of Lake Austin and have trails that will lead you to the water’s edge. If you don’t see any peacocks at Mayfield Park, look up! They usually are up in the trees! Together with Mount Bonnell, these three free spots make a lovely family outing.

For the History Buffs

Mount Bonnell (a.k.a Covert Park) has been one of Austin’s most popular tourist destinations dating back to the 1850’s. It offers an amazing scenic vista overlooking the Colorado River Valley. Climbing up 106 stone steps, or 775 feet, to the summit you will attain panoramic view of the Austin downtown skyline to the east and the 360 Bridge to the west. Below you see all the pricey real estate lining both shorelines of Lake Austin. There are two versions of where the name originates from. One legend states the name comes from a publisher of the local newspaper The Texas Sentinel, George W. Bonnell, who wrote the first documented excursion to the peak in a diary entry written in 1838. He was also Commissioner of Indian affairs in the Republic of Texas under President Sam Houston. (According to the historical marker placed at Mount Bonnell in 1969 by the State Historical Survey Committee). Another version claims it was named after Joseph Bonnell who was a Captain in the Texas Army during the War for Independence. However, there is not enough evidence to support either claim. Mount Bonnell is a limestone outcrop that is part of the Balcones Fault Escarpment, which forms the eastern boundary of the Texas Hill Country. Covert Park is a little more than five acres and was designated a Recorded Texas Historic Landmark in 1969 and was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 2015. You will find the Covert Park Marker at the base of the mountain adjacent to the stone steps which states the land was donated to Travis County by the family of Frank Covert, Sr. for use as a park in 1939. Covert Park offers free parking along the street and is open from 5am to 10pm. Although Mount Bonnell has been a popular tourist destination in the mid 19th century, it was utilized by Native American tribes well before the 1850’s. Research shows Mount Bonnell was Native American territory before Anglo settlements began taking over in the 1830’s.
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