On high at Mount Bonnell


View of Lake Austin and the Pennybacker Bridge from atop Mt. Bonnell

What Austinites call mountains would be called foothills in more towering regions. It’s part of the same exaggeration that has Austin in a tizzy right now over cold temperatures that just might drop all the way to freezing or even—gasp!—bring a few snow flurries to town. While I was having my hair cut this morning, my stylist told me that a worried client had already asked about rescheduling her Friday appointment in case bad weather (i.e., cold and a few snowflakes) kept her from risking life and limb to make it to the salon.


But I digress. At 775 or 785 feet (sources differ) above sea level, Mt. Bonnell may be the highest point in the Austin city limits. Located in a wealthy westside neighborhood, it’s a popular spot to bring visiting relatives. Early on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, the kids and I climbed the stairs to the top and hiked the ridge before it got very crowded, which gave us ample opportunity to enjoy the view of Lake Austin, which looks like a river, and is in fact formed by a dam on the Colorado River. This is the view looking downstream toward downtown, where another dam turns Lake Austin into Lady Bird Lake.


An old historical sign provides a somewhat humorous history of the area. What a soap opera of characters it covers!


Using the telephoto lens on the camera to ogle the mansions built on waterfront property directly below the overlook, I spotted this formal garden with a Grecian-style temple in the center. Not my cup o’ tea but interesting to see how the other half lives.

All material © 2006-2009 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

15 Responses

  1. Les says:

    I have certainly been enjoying all of your Thanksgiving field trips, thanks for taking us along. I had to Google the Colorado River as I thought I was sure it did not flow into Texas. Now I know there is more than one.

  2. Sweet Bay says:

    Austin looks like a city of gardens in these pictures. The mansion is impressive but I’d have a garden where the brick courtyard is.

  3. Pretty fall colors. I love this view..my daughter took us here when she was at UT.
    This garden is pretty, but I would rather have a rusty pail planted with red geraniums! :)

  4. Town Mouse says:

    My, you have been out and about! Looks like a fun outing. I agree about that “garden”, way too much lawn…

  5. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    When I looked at the first photo it struck me as to how people are drawn to the banks of water to create habitation. It doesn’t matter if they are in a trailer or as these fortunate people. Beautiful scenery and colorful characters have always enjoyed it it seems.

  6. Tatyana says:

    Wonderful views Pam! Just breathtaking!

  7. Jean says:

    Whoa, I can’t believe how much development has gone on in that area. It’s been a long time since I’ve been up there. It doesn’t look like the dreamy verdant shore it was in my youth! :-)

  8. Great photos, as usual. This is one place I haven’t been in Austin. It’s a beautiful view.
    I love historical markers. Some day, I’m going to drag Mr. P. on a tour of them through Texas.

  9. But just think what you could do if you were set free in that formal garden space with it’s great bones! We are facing almost that same forecast, although we’ve already been hovering at or slightly below the freezing mark the last couple of nights. Possible snow flurries over the weekend…the words have me worried…my wounds are still fresh from last year. Hope yours isn’t too bad!

  10. A perfect house in Italy! Beautiful shots of the river btw.

  11. Cindy, MCOK says:

    Pam,the view is gorgeous, save for the uninspired garden in the last shot! I wish you could get your hands on it.

  12. wow great views. I am sure you must have had great time.

  13. Gail says:

    Pam, Beautiful views of one of my favorite cities! I am enjoying your tours around the area! Now if only the summers weren’t so darn hot…Gail ps Nashvillians get into a similar frenzy when snow is predicted…the grocery shelves get emptied of milk and bread.

  14. TexasDeb says:

    Belated thanks for being Austin’s unofficial tour guide of late. Great photos and graphic reminder of how much lawn so many folks are still supporting. And today, if we do get that one hard freeze predicted, the nipped plantings in our non-lawn gardens will remind us of why some people prefer grassy spaces to beds with more susceptible biomass. Here’s hoping all the improvised coverings we employ do the trick so once our temps return to more our wintry norm we’ll still have beauty to enjoy!

  15. Germi says:

    I lived in Austin for a few months long ago, attending a high school Theatre Summer Camp at UT…
    I remember Mt. Bonnell being a pretty popular make-out spot!
    ahem… moving on…

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