I visited Austin for the first time in March 2011, and this was one of many pleasant experiences while there. Even the drive to get there is pretty doggone interesting...
When researching things to do in Austin, I read about Mount Bonnell, the highest point in Austin, which is famous for its panoramic view 785 feet high above downtown and Lake Austin. But in order to get to the top, you must climb 100 or so stone steps. It's doable if you're in fairly good shape, but it's not for the faint of heart. Of course, you can take it slow and take rest breaks if needed. The stairs are wide enough to do so.
A pavilion sits at the top of the mountain offering sweeping views, particularly to the west into the Hillcountry. Downtown Austin can be seen to the southeast, but you may have to find an ideal spot in order to get a completely clear view. I also read that Mount Bonnell served as a popular picnic spot as far back as the 1850's, so there's quite a bit of history here.
Also, there is a legend that Mt. Bonnell was once called Antoinette's Leap, named after a damsel who leaped to her death to avoid capture from Indians that killed her lover, who fought to his death to defend her. Now generally considered safe, Mt. Bonnell is said to be one of the most romantic locations in Austin. From what I've read, there are alot of proposals that happen here. But you must still watch your children very carefully. There are some areas where there's no barrier between you and the drop to the ground below.
Mount Bonnell is really a great spot for a picnic, and the sunset views must be awesome! We were there during the afternoon hours, but I can just imagine what the sunset must look like, or even sunrise, for that matter. While we were there, there were some youngsters sunbathing on some huge boulders, plus we saw couples and families just hiking on some of the trails, but you must be careful to watch your footing due to alot of uneven areas and rocks. There are some gorgeous homes below the summit, and you'll more than likely see some boat activity going on in the lake below during the warmer months.
It's definitely worth the trip to go on this adventure!!!
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