We wanted to take advantage of this afternoon’s “cool” weather (only 90 degrees!), so we headed to Mount Bonnell and Mayfield Park, historic and beautiful public parks located off of 35th Street in West Austin.
Mount Bonnell provides stunning views of Lake Austin, the 360 bridge, and downtown. It is located at 3851 Mount Bonnell Drive, where you will find street parking. Mount Bonnell is a true Austin landmark. This much-beloved spot has won dozens of “Best of Austin” awards from the Austin Chronicle. Interestingly, there is dissension about who the scenic location is named after: George W. Bonnell or First Lt. Joseph Bonnell. For now, the historical marker still recognizes George W. Bonnell.
The park is officially known as Covert Park at Mount Bonnell, thanks to the generous donation of the summit of Mt. Bonnell to the City of Austin by the Covert Family in the 1930s.
My kids practically raced up the stairs! They could not wait to get to the top.
As you can see, the main viewing area has stonework you can sit on as a well as a fence for safety.
Here is the amazing view of the 360 bridge.
We went over to a lonely little picnic table. Just as I was wondering why this particular spot without any shade had been singled out for picnics, I looked east and saw this view.
The kids followed a trail down the hill and we easily found our way back up.
We went to the northern side of the park where, as you can see, there is no more wrought iron fence! Make sure your kids understand that the bluff is dangerous and that they should be cautious.
This section of the trail had a small rope fencing off the bluff but you can see how close the edge is.
After surviving our “walk on the edge,” the boys had fun hopping along these big rocks.
My sons were intrigued from the moment we parked the car. They couldn’t wait to go explore the grounds.
The property was originally purchased by Allison Mayfield in 1909 as a summer and weekend retreat. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Mayfield Park was donated to the City of Austin in 1971 by Mary Mayfield Gutsch. The park includes this historic cottage, gardens, lily ponds, and a 21-acre nature preserve. (We did try to go in the cottage, but all of the doors were locked.)
There were many beautiful peacocks on the Mayfield Park grounds, which is a popular spot for weddings and outdoor photography. Amazingly, these peacocks are descended from peacocks given as a gift to the Mayfield-Gutsch family in 1935!
My youngest son had hopes of finding a frog in the lily ponds but he didn’t have any luck.
We had many creative ideas about what this curious stone building might be but we did not guess “pigeon cote.”
I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to photograph this beautiful water lily!
After we thoroughly investigated the gardens and lily ponds, we headed to the nature preserve’s trails.
While there were several trail markers, we were not successful in figuring out our location on the trails so we just wandered around. Because the nature preserve is only 21 acres, we did not get lost. It was very quiet and relaxing.
This creek must be amazing when the water is flowing! We are already planning to return after we get some rain.
This bluff area was very beautiful. My 6-year-old son really liked this tree growing out of a rock.
As we got ready to leave, we saw this chimney swift tower, a nesting and roosting site for chimney swift birds. What will they think of next?
Austin Active Kids Opinion: A great “duet” of fun outdoor activities!
Outing Time: About 1.5 hours to visit both Mount Bonnell and Mayfield Park.
Reminders: If you have children under age 5, you might want to have at least one other adult with you to help you monitor the kids at Mt. Bonnell due to the high bluff. Also, Mt. Bonnell is not stroller-friendly so the only way to get up that hill is leg power. Mayfield Park is a much easier outing for young children, although the trails in the nature preserve are a little rough and might have some spots that are tough for a stroller. Both Mt. Bonnell and Mayfield Park had quite a few visitors on the Saturday afternoon we were there. It was certainly not overcrowded but you will encounter plenty of other people. There are no restroom facilities at Mt. Bonnell and Mayfield Park has a port-o-potty.
This article in the Handbook of Texas Online has an interesting historical sketch of Mount Bonnell. Our friends at Free Fun in Austin have visited Mt. Bonnell, too.