Davidson Arabia Mountain Heritage Area is where you can begin a number of hikes, pick up a map, and check out the animals and such inside the visitor center. Arabia Mountain is a perfect place for exploring with kids! With one-of-a-kind rare plants and flat rock archives.
Explore a land that has taken 400 million years to form. The Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area lies just east of Metro Atlanta along I-20 in Dekalb County. Dominated by two rock outcrops, it offers natural wonders, compelling history, and heart-pumping activity. A vibrant history, breathtaking beauty, and intriguing cultural changes from early settlers to immigrant rock cutters, freed slaves, and Trappist monks.
Mountaintop Trail begins a mile past the visitor center, at the AWARE center. I learned about this hike from the Hiking Hidden Forests book I mention frequently. In fact, the author says that if you only do ONE hike in the whole book, this is the one to do!
It’s a simple hike, only one mile out and back. You’ll park at the trailhead at AWARE and follow the blue blaze to the base of the mountain. Then, leave the blue blaze and follow the cairns up the mountain to the top. The view is amazing! This time of year you will also see the beautiful yellow daisies that only grow within 60 miles of this area.
While hiking, keep your eyes out for the solution pits. You’ll want to avoid these. They look like small dried up depressions right now, but they hold beautiful flowers, seeds, lichen, and moss. One of my favorite plants are the diamorpha. They aren’t growing now…they flourish in spring. But stay on the path and out of the solution pools to ensure they return! You can read more about the diamorpha at the base of the mountain.
FOREST AND MILE ROCK TRAILS
This is not the only hike in the area. Not by a long shot. Another fun one for the kids is the Forest and Mile Rock Trails. This two-mile loop is extremely diverse and keeps everyone busy with changing scenery.
The hike begins at the visitor center. Be sure to stop in; the boys loved the hornet’s nest and frogs. The trailhead is just to the right of the center.
The beginning of the hike is in the forest and along Arabia Lake. There is a great Loblolly Pine along this part of the trail that reaches almost 10 feet in circumference, which is very rare. It’s a beauty (you can see the boys leaning against it!) The other Sentinal Tree on this hike is a pine that split when it was young. The boys said it looks like a headless person flailing their arms. haha.
At the end of the lake, turn toward the rock cropping and follow the cairns. You’ll move out of the forest, seeing many solution pits and outcrops in a quarry area. You’ll turn again at the quarry building to head back to the visitor center and complete the two miles.
EXPLORE THE SOUTH RIVER
To explore the river even more, sign up for a paddle with the South River Watershed Alliance or Panola Mountain State Park. You can also go for a walk on a river, with numerous trailheads located along its banks. That includes Panola Shoals and the De Castro Trailheads, both of which are located along our 30+ mile paved PATH trail system. Step outside and explore this natural treasure – hidden right in Atlanta’s backyard.
ARABIA MOUNTAIN PATH
The Arabia Mountain PATH (AMP) is 30 miles of recreational trail located just 20 minutes east of Atlanta. Walkers, cyclists and joggers share the multi-use trail. From the first mile, the AMP was designed to hug the landscape and take you past historic landmarks and stunning vistas. Each curve tugs at your feet and beckons you to find out what surprises lie beyond the next bend. Ready to go? Download the interactive map below and come explore!
PANOLA MOUNTAIN STATE PARK
Just 15 minutes from Atlanta is a recreational haven for all ages and interests. Visitors can picnic while children work off energy on the playground. Anglers can bring their fishing poles to catch dinner at Alexander Lake. The park even offers archery, boat rental, geocaching, orienteering, birding and tree-climbing programs. A paved trail is open for biking, roller blading, jogging and dog-walking, while forested fitness trails are open for hiking and running.
Panola Mountain is a 100-acre granite outcrop similar to Stone Mountain, but smaller and much more pristine. Park visitors will see the outcrop and its rare ecosystem just as Native Americans did centuries ago. Reservations are required for ranger-led hikes that teach about the rare plants and animals found in this habitat and is the crown jewel of the Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area, one of only three National Heritage Areas in the state.
MONASTERY OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
The natural beauty of this 2,000+ acre preserve and the artistry of its historic buildings set the stage for a place that speaks to the soul. The Monastery has always been open to the public, but in 2011, the monks incorporated a historic barn into a Monastic Heritage Center.
One of their most remarkable achievements is the construction of the Cloister and Abbey Church. Built by the monks themselves from poured concrete, the building is an engineering and architectural marvel. It has been called “Georgia’s Most Remarkable Concrete Building.”
ARABIA MOUNTAIN PARKING
Parking facilities are located at the nature center at 3787 Klondike Road and at the base of Arabia Mountain and AWARE at 4158 Klondike Road. Rangers offer guided hikes at 8:00 a.m on Friday, and Sunday.
WHERE TO STAY NEAR ARABIA MOUNTAIN
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