Sunday Hikes: Stone Mountain Walk Up Trail

One of the more iconic hikes in the Atlanta area is Stone Mountain. Fair warning, the Stone Mountain park is a private park and they do charge a parking fee.

If you are not from the area, but have ever flown through ATL then you have probably seen Stone Mountain. It’s the largest piece of exposed granite in the world and is 1686 feet in elevation at its zenith.

The trail starts at a busy parking lot and on this hot late summer day, there were a lot of folks climbing the trail. The Walk Up Trail, as it’s called, is one mile up and one mile back. I did the trail twice so I got 4 miles in.

The trail starts with an incline and you can see some places where granite had been excavated previously. The yellow daisies which only grow on the granite outcroppings in the southern United Stares were in full bloom.

The hike is a gradual incline but near the summit gets very steep and has railing so you can keep from sliding back down.

Views from the top are expansive with the Atlanta skyline directly in front of you. The summit is marred a bit by tourists who have ridden up on the skylift and are not sweaty like the hikers. There are some exhibits, a gift shop and snack bar at the summit as well.

All in all, a great Atlanta hike with local history and culture. Try this hike and stay for the laser show on the mountain face on your next visit to Atlanta.


Sunday Hikes: The Arabia Mountain Trail

The Arabia Mountain Trail is located in the Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area about 20 minutes southeast of Atlanta GA. As a longtime Atlanta area resident, I was surprised that I had never heard of this hiking area before.

Now, I didn’t really know where the trailhead started so I messed up and ended up hiking more than I anticipated. Google maps took me to the Nature Center Trailhead which is a stop on the paved bike loop in the area. I got my bearings and figured it was just a mile down the bike trail to the Arabia Mountain trailhead. No big deal. Unfortunately, I went the wrong way and didn’t figure it out until I made it to the Vaughters Farm trailhead one mile in the opposite direction.

I’m about to go the wrong way!

I hoofed it back (note take the left fork from the Nature Center trailhead next time) and started going the correct way this time. After about half a mile, I took another left down the Klondike Spur which was an elevated wooden boardwalk. It was noisy as it followed the Klondike Road. Finally after another half mile I arrived at the Aware Nature Center which is where I should have started to begin with.

Headed the right way now.

The Boardwalk on the Klondike Spur

The trail got interesting now as I stepped out onto the exposed granite and followed the massive cairns. You could see where the granite had been quarried in places and water was flowing or puddled from the rains the day before.

Finally made the right trailhead

The beginning of the Arabia Mountain Trail


You can see where the granite was quarried.

Now that I was in the open you could see it was a beautiful blue sky Sunday and I quickly ascended Arabia Mountain. Mountain actually may be generous , it was more of a granite outcropping hill. The trailhead is at 796 feet above sea level at the summit is at 955 feet above sea level.

Starting to climb.

The views were nice but the elevation was not high enough to see the Atlanta skyline or even nearby Stone Mountain. The summit however covered a few acres I would guess and was fun to explore. I was excited to find a geological survey marker!

Panoramic view from the summit

The actual summit

Geological Survey Marker

Exploring the summit.

After finishing up my exploring, I descended rapidly, followed the boardwalk and bike trail and soon was back to my car. What could have been a 1.2 mile hike I had turned into about 5.2 miles. It was a beautiful day so it was all good.

Thanks for reading. rk

Sweetwater Creek State Park – Sweetwater Creek Hike

Editors note: this is week 4 of our recurring feature from a young family point of view as they visit all of Georgia’s state parks. I’ll include links to the previous weeks action at the end.

Welcome back to our little state park adventure! It’s a rainy April here in Georgia, nearly every day this week was pouring- so today I am going to throwback to one of the first State Parks we went to as a family: Sweetwater Creek State Park. This park has become a popular spot because the ruins of an old textile mill featured on the red hiking trail was also a film location for the Hunger Games. The park itself runs along the large and flowing Sweetwater Creek for which the park is named. The park boasts history, beautiful hiking trails, amenities, and even a spot for weddings!

Upon arriving at the park, we were very surprised at the sheer amount of people there. It was challenging to even find a place to park our car in the large dirt lots. After locating a parking spot, we headed to the most popular trail, the red trail, to check out the ruins of the New Manchester Manufacturing Company, a textile mill that was burned during the Civil War. Upon beginning the trail, I started to wonder if we should have chosen a different one. It was quite literally just a flat dirt path for the first bit, people with flip-flops and strollers were heading down alongside us- not a great sign when you are looking for a fun hike. The trail remained just as easy but got a little more exciting when we were able to walk right alongside the creek. Our son enjoyed watching the flowing stream and looking for creatures along the edge. We quickly arrived at the old ruins, which were nice, but you are unable to get very close due to preservation.

Just as I was thinking that the park was a crowded bust, we saw a sign that was our saving grace. Just past the mill, it reads “the red trail now becomes moderately difficult.” Apparently that scared all the flip-floppers away because 95% of the crowd did not continue on the trail past that. In my opinion, “moderately difficult” trails can actually be more fun with kids than easy ones, because the child stays interested with the challenge of climbing. That was definitely true in this case. The trail got really fun after the ruins. It became very rocky, and had some wooden stairs at the steepest parts. We hiked for about a mile along the rocky trail, holding on to the chains they had inserted into the rocks for balance. We ended up turning around after we became soaked in mud (I would recommend going on a dry day), but the rest of the trail looked equally fun and exciting.

What started out as a slight disappointment due to crowds ended up being a really enjoyable hike that I would love to do again. If I could give some recommendations for Sweetwater Creek, they would be to: go on a weekday to try to beat the crowds, go when it’s dry outside because the creek side trail does get pretty muddy, and to keep going past the old ruins to see what the red trail really has to offer! Thanks for reading and let’s hope all these April showers bring some May flowers (and hikes).

– Rebekah

Week 1: Panola Mountain SP

Week 2: Fort Yargo SP

Week 3: James H Floyd SP