Adventure In Austin: Mount Bonnell

Have you been to Mount Bonnell? I doubt more than 5% of you said, “Nope!” to that question, but my goal is to explore every hiking trail, swimming hole and amazing vista in Austin. Here’s my plug for the most popular sunset view in the city. 

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I have felt this way about clichés for a long time: they are clichés for a reason. Usually things are eventually redundant because they are completely true. So, yes. Mount Bonnell is a repetitive pick to view the sunset, or simply enjoy a nice view, but that’s because it’s one of the best views in the city! This place is breathtaking. This spot is more of a spectator sport than hiking trail, but it’s worth the break from strenuous climbing. Don’t get me wrong, you’ll need some leg muscles to get up the many stairs to this view, but that picture ^ is what to come for, not the exercise.

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Plenty of stairs.

After walking up these stairs, you’ll hit a pavilion that has a handful of views in itself. Walk forward and see Lake Austin! However, if you’re there with some friends and want a secluded picnic spot, turn left after you’re done climbing those flights. Walk down a little path, and you’ll find a table and great view of downtown.

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From here, or if you don’t have a picnic dinner, start exploring the other views on this mountain. It just keeps going! Turn up another pathway of stone steps and you’ll find a popular outlook that boasts both views (of the skyline and sunset). Keep walking up the path and you’ll find yourself back at the top of the stairs. Enjoy this view. People watch. You’ll be able to look around and see people marveling at the same sunset you’re enjoying.

(*Sidenote: I remember sitting on the beach in Florida with my best friend and being shocked at the amount of people that came simply to see the sunset. We were all staring off at the distance and right when the sun passed by the horizon, everyone started clapping. It was my favorite memory of our trip. This view, and community watching nature do its thing, felt similar and sweet.)

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Find a spot to savor and start a similar clap, or keep on exploring. You’ll find plenty of more vistas to soak up the view.

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Look closely! That’s 360 Overlook! You can read our post about that beautiful spot here.

Throughout this path to the right, you’ll see ropes like this one that ensure you stay safe! Remember to keep a close eye on those you’re with and keep on this side of the rope!

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There’s another picnic table that you can enjoy a meal on. I’m pretty sure having a meal at this table, watching the sunset, is better entertainment than half the movies playing right now. So, go have a blast and good conversation. Also. Look at how beautiful this light is, you guys. In order to make a very blatant point that this light would make anything gorgeous, I also took a picture of my keys. Enjoy!

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This would just not be as great at noon. Soft light is the winner!

Remember to look up at the sky while you’re there at this time. Simply check online when the sun is going to set and arrive about 45 minutes before. This way, you can enjoy your meal and have the perfect view when things start turning orange and pink.

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Quick Facts:

  • Address: 3800 Bonnell Road, Austin, TX
  • Hours: 5 a.m. – 10 p.m.
    • Note that cars will be towed from 10 p.m. – 5 a.m.
  • Just like 360 Overlook, come for the view and stay for the view.

About the Author

Katie Trayser
Katie is a photographer with an affinity for star gazing, clouds and jet streams. (Apparently the sky in general.) Want to get on her good side? Provide a breakfast taco or three. And she doesn't mean to brag, but she loves Abraham Lincoln more than you. You can check out her photography at www.katietrayser.com