AUSTIN — I watched the sunset, as I stood 785 feet above sea level, the highest point in the city of Austin.
Spanning 5.54 acres, Covert Park is home to Mount Bonnell. The mount is located approximately an hour and 15 minutes south of Fort Hood.
A limestone staircase introduces visitors to a half-mile trail at the top of the mount. Breathtaking views of downtown Austin, the Colorado River and the western hills can be seen from the top of the highest point in the city. The trail itself only takes roughly 15 minutes to hike, but the view, not the hike, is the reason why hundreds of people visit the park on any given weekend.
How did Mount Bonnell get its name? In 1969, a historical marker was placed at Mount Bonnell by the State Historical Survey Committee. Mount Bonnell is believed to be named after George W. Bonnell, former publisher of Austin’s Texas Sentinel newspaper. The Texas Sentinel’s first publication was on January 15, 1840. But, there has been community dispute that Mount Bonnell was actually named after a West Point graduate, Joseph Bonnell, a recognized hero of the Texas Revolution. In 2013, the Texas Court Appeals upheld a lower court’s dismissal of the claim that the Texas Historical Commission had the incorrect Bonnell on the official historical marker at Covert Park. Although the claim has been dismissed, the rumors haven’t.
At the bottom of the limestone staircase is a stone plaque dedicated to the memory of Frank M. Covert, Sr. The Covert Park was given to Travis County in 1939 by the Covert family.
Mount Bonnell is a great location to have a picnic for two, adventure on a hike with the family or watch the sunset on a date. The hike was surprisingly undemanding, which was fortunate for me, because instead of wearing athletic shoes I wore uncomfortable boots. Although the hike is categorized as “beginner level” I would still encourage visitors to wear athletic shoes. Also, there isn’t any railing at the top of Mount Bonnell, so families with small children should ensure supervision at all times.
Mount Bonnell at Covert Park is located in Austin at 3800 Mount Bonnell Rd. The park is open from 5 a.m.-10 p.m. and entrance is free. For more information on Mount Bonnell at Covert Park visit, austintexas.gov.