The topography and geology of the Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area offer a unique venue for hiking and biking. Arabia Mountain is one of three monadnocks-a Native American term for an isolated hill that stands above the surrounding terrain-in the Atlanta metro area. (Stone Mountain and Panola Mountain are the others.) Aside from the granite outcroppings and unusual geologic features, the monadnock is home to unusual plant and animal species.
Arabia Mountain’s metamorphic rock has withstood hundreds of millions of years of erosion, forming the free-standing mountain that exists today. Over time, small lakes and meadows formed on the summit, creating small habitats that thrive among wide fields of stone. The granite surface is home to diamorpha-tiny, fragile plants that miraculously survive in this rocky environment. During spring the diamorpha on Arabia Mountain bloom, creating crimson carpets in an otherworldly landscape.
Hit the Trails at Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area
The diamorpha on Arabia Mountain bursts into color in the spring. (TimothyJ, flickr)
More than 30 miles of trails (paved and unpaved) wind through the Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area and neighboring Panola Mountain State Park. As you hike you’ll encounter picturesque landscapes, rare plants, spectacular views and occasional discarded slabs of stone from the old quarry.
Take this trail to the top of Arabia Mountain for uninhibited, 360-degree views. At 1.3 miles, it’s a great beginner hike and a good choice for a family outing. Additionally, if you hike after a rain shower you can explore the shallow vernal pools that dot the surface of the summit.
Boardwalk Trail Loop
This scenic hike encompasses multiple trails over its 5.1 miles. Along the way, you’ll be rewarded with spectacular views from the summit as well as a walk along the banks of Arabia Lake.
Arabia Mountain View Trail
Pack a picnic for this 2.3-mile hike along the base of the mountain through shady forest trails, open grassy meadows and across broad expanses of exposed granite. Enjoy views of the mountain directly and from its reflection in the small lake along the path.
History of Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area
The Davidson family owned Arabia Mountain for the better part of the 20th century. The family utilized the natural resource from the mountain to quarry granite, which was used to construct iconic structures around the country, including the Brooklyn Bridge. During the 1970s, the Davidson family donated more than 500 acres of the mountain and surrounding land in DeKalb County so that local residents could enjoy the area as a nature preserve. Since its inception, the national heritage area has been expanded several times and now covers more than 2,500 acres.
Best Time to Go
There is no bad time to hike the trails within this preserve. However, hiking after a rainstorm or during the rainy months is the best time to see the shallow pools atop the mountain’s cratered surface.
Where to Park
Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area lies just east of Atlanta along I-20 in DeKalb County. You can access it from the nature center parking area at 3787 Klondike Road or from the parking area at the base of Arabia Mountain at 4158 Klondike Road.
The Arabia Mountain Heritage Area Alliance maintains an office at Vaughters Farm on Klondike Road.
3350 Klondike Road
Lithonia, Ga. 30038
Written by Clay Abney for RootsRated Media in partnership with Atlanta CVB.