Cairn on Arabia Mountain. Photo courtesy Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area Alliance

Find your way to the top of Arabia Mountain following the well-marked trail.

Insider Tips for Visiting Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area

How to stay safe and protect nature while you explore the outdoors just east of Atlanta

The Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area covers 40,000 acres of land right outside Atlanta, including two massive granite outcrops, the South River, miles of trails, multiple historic sites and more. With plentiful outdoor space, it's a great destination when you want to get out of the house in a safe manner.

Here are a few ways you can get the most out of your trip to the National Heritage Area.

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

Vaughters Farm meadow. Photo courtesy Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area Alliance

Try a different route

The Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area's most popular sites include Arabia and Panola mountains. But did you know that there are many miles of trail that you might be missing? The paved Arabia Mountain PATH trail stretches more than 34 miles throughout the National Heritage Area, from historic downtown Lithonia all the way to the Monastery of the Holy Spirit in Conyers. And that's not to mention all of the unpaved trails, like the Meadow Loop Trail at Vaughters Farm (above). Next time you visit, try a trail you haven't used before; you might discover an amazing view.

View Map of Trails and Trailheads

Nature photographer at Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area

Take only pictures

Sometimes it's tempting to pick a pretty flower or pocket a cool rock and take them home with you. In the Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area, you can protect the landscape by leaving with photos and memories, but not the pieces of nature. By leaving the landscape untouched, you'll protect the landscape for yourself and others.

Cairn on Arabia Mountain. Photo courtesy Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area Alliance

Stay on the trail

Trails can look a little different in the National Heritage Area. Sometimes, the trail is paved; other times, it's a dirt path through the woods. If you're hiking on the rock outcrop, the trail is marked by cairns, stacks of rocks that guide you across the bare granite. Stick to the trails, and you'll be able to both see and protect the natural landscape.

Woman inspecting red diamorpha. Photo courtesy Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area Alliance

Watch where you step

If you're walking on the rock outcrop, the lunar-like landscape can seem devoid of life. That's an illusion, though, so look where you walk! Patches of sand, mud, and water appear on the rock face, and these are home to a variety of rare and endangered plant life.

You can see some of these patches, called "solution pits" in the photo above. Note that there are two in the photo. In the foreground, bright red diamorpha grows in a muddy patch. In the background, another solution pit is filled with mud and a variety of vegetation. Keep an eye out for both as you hike.

Photographers on a cloudy day. Photo courtesy Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area Alliance

Be quiet and keep an eye out

Sometimes, nature really shows up when we let ourselves be quiet. Try finding a quiet spot (above, the Rock Outcrop Trail at Panola Mountain State Park on a cloudy day), and sit or stand there a while. Often, birds and other animals will appear when we let ourselves fade into the background.

Trail at Arabia Mountain. Photo courtesy Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area Alliance

Head south

The southernmost trailheads in the Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area – including at the Monastery of the Holy Spirit, South Rockdale Community Park and the De Castro Trailhead (above) – are often some of the quietest trailheads in the National Heritage Area. Hop on one of these trailheads and then meander along the PATH through gorgeous meadows and forested hillsides.

View map of Arabia Mountain PATH Trails

Published: March 2021
Written by: Zack Loehle