Davidson-Arabia Mountain Nature Preserve is where you can begin a number of hikes, pick up a map, and check out the animals and such inside the visitor center. The 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.