Biking on a boardwalk in the Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area. Photo by Jason Meucci

Explore more than 30 miles of trails, and see stunning vistas and historic landmarks at the Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area. Photo by Jason Meucci.

Hidden Gems in the Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area

Head to these lesser-known areas for incredible experiences without the crowds.

Sprawling across 40,000 acres of land just east of Atlanta on I-20, the Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area offers plenty of opportunities for a breath of fresh air and a quiet, safe getaway. Many visitors know about the area's two granite outcrops Panola Mountain and Arabia Mountain, but you may not know about the expansive area's many more natural and historic highlights. Here are five off-the-beaten-path destinations you should explore on your next outing.

Before your trip, review the area's COVID-19 precautions, and review the visitor guide for detailed maps and more information.

Sunrise over the South River. Photo courtesy Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area Alliance

The South River

Meandering through the Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area, the South River offers wonderful opportunities to see nature and admire Georgia's rolling hills. You can hike or bike alongside the river on the Arabia Mountain PATH trail, or paddle down its running waters as it flows toward the Atlantic.

Tip for getting there: Access the river at the Panola Shoals Trailhead (intersection of Snapfinger and Panola Roads in Stonecrest) and Lorraine Park (3465 GA-138, Stockbridge GA 30281).

Visit The South River

Lithonia Woman's Club at the Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area. Photo courtesy Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area Alliance

The Lithonia Woman's Club

The historic gateway to the National Heritage Area, the Lithonia Woman's Club is home to the Ruth Carroll Dally Johnson Interpretive Garden, a small greenspace that highlights the people and industry that have shaped Lithonia. That includes Lucious Sanders, a veteran and civil rights activist, and Maggie Woods, the first Black woman to sit on Lithonia's City Council, as well as Scottish quarrymen who traveled overseas to work with Lithonia granite. After visiting the Woman's Club, stroll over to historic downtown Lithonia, which is filled with buildings on the National Register of Historic Places.

Visit Lithonia Woman's Club

South Rockdale Community Park PATH trail. Photo courtesy Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area Alliance

South Rockdale Community Park

Connected to the more than 34-mile Arabia Mountain PATH trail system, the South Rockdale Community Park offers opportunities for walking and biking in nature, as well as specialized trails for horseback riding and mountain biking. Whether spending an afternoon here or passing through as you explore the entire National Heritage Area, this is a spot to linger.

Tip for getting there: Use the address 3909 East Fairview Road, Stockbridge, GA 30281.

Visit South Rockdale Community Park

Monastery of the Holy Spirit in Conyers, Georgia. Photo courtesy Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area Alliance

The Monastery of the Holy Spirit

Metro Atlanta's largest privately protected greenspace, the historic Monastery of the Holy Spirit offers trails and grounds where you can enjoy the outdoors. Although the Abbey Church and Monastic Heritage Center are temporarily closed to the public, you can hop on the trails and bike or walk through lush forests and along the South River.

Visit Monastery of the Holy Spirit

Vaughters Barn at Panola Mountain State Park. Photo courtesy Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area Alliance

Vaughters Farm

DeKalb County was once the dairy capital of Georgia, and Vaughters Farm is one of the last remnants of that agricultural landscape. Farmer S. B. Vaughters raised dairy cows, beef cattle and horses throughout the 1900s before selling the land to the state in 2002 to protect it from development. Today, you can see the historic barn and meander through former cow pasture (now wildlife habitat). A great spot for birdwatching, hiking, and picnics, Vaughters Farm makes you feel like you're hundreds of miles away from Atlanta.

Visit Vaughters Farm

Published: March 2021
Written by: Zack Loehle