An Ode to Mount Bonnell

Taking Austin in from the city's most iconic summit.

Okay, so Mount Bonnell isn’t really a mountain. It’s more like a hill, a limestone crag—the Slacker of mountains, which is perfect, seeing as part of that underachiever-glorifying movie was shot here. In the last scene a handful of twentysomethings run to the summit through the cedar and oak trees, just as young folks have done since the days of the Comanche. They come to look at and listen to the world below. To drink and get high. To whisper and grope.

There’s a pergola at the top now and a sign that begs you to please not throw rocks or launch fireworks. But otherwise, Mount Bonnell hasn’t changed over the years. You can still crawl to the edge of the cliffs. You can still listen to the wind through the trees. You can still contemplate the water treatment plant to the south that lights up like a pinball machine.

What has changed is the view. Those dark, rolling hills to the west are today covered in lights and luxury homes. Giant motorboats cruise the wide river below. The downtown skyline looks like, well, a real skyline. Yet, as always, the young still come to take it all in. They light their way up the 104 stone steps at dusk with their phones. And they drink, whisper, and grope in the dark, hundreds of feet above the city.

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