Go in early fall to one of the local Atlanta monadnocks to enjoy the yellow daisies blooming all over the rocky surface of Arabia Mountain. Every September to October, the dead-appearing solution pools in the rock’s surface bloom to life with yellow everywhere! Don’t wait too long or they’ll be gone.
🙋♀️What is it?
Arabia Mountain is a 2,500 acre preserved nature area east of Atlanta with the rocky hiking as the central focus point. There are two separate portions under the same name.
The east side with the tallest monadnock (massive granite outcrop) has Arabia Mountain, a nearby lake, and miles of trails around the mountain. The west side has paved and natural trails going around the quarried area as well as hiking across the granite. Additionally, look for the boardwalk that follows along the highway.
Evidence of previous quarrying can be seen in some of the leveled areas with dynamite blast holes, but much of the landscape is still in it’s natural form with plenty of land to explore. At one time, this Davidson quarry was one of the largest in the world and granite from this area can be seen throughout Washington, D.C., West Point, and the Brooklyn Bridge. The remains of quarry offices and jail cell can be explored at the west side entrance.
This ever changing landscape needs to be appreciated at different times all throughout the year. Come and watch the changes in nature: blooming diamorpha red, diamorpha changes to white flowers, cactus blooming, yellow daisies, purple flowers, and lovely ever-present lichen and mosses.
Lithonia, GA. 25 minutes east of downtown Atlanta. On your phone, plot your course to “aware wildlife center” on your map to head to climb the mountain. For the west side with the nature center, enter “Davidson-Arabia Nature Preserve”.
Dusk to dawn. This would be a great place to see a sunset or sunrise over the surrounding area.
⏳How much time do I need?
Several hours to all day. It totally depends how much wandering you want to do. With about two hours, you can get to the top of Arabia Mountain and back down. With several more hours, go adventuring past the mountain, follow the trail around, and snag some geocaches.
Free for park entrance, parking, and hiking
East Side – At the start of the hike is only a small parking lot. This will quickly fill up on weekends. You can park down the road and walk in on the boardwalk if necessary. Try to go early and during the week if possible.
West side – This side with the visitor center and the boardwalk trails has two large parking lots, but they fill up on the weekends!
- Bring snacks with you and eat on the go; just pack it out as there will be no trash receptacles throughout the nature area.
- There’s no official picnic area.
- Look for the water bottle refill station under the covered entrance.
There is a porta-potty at the entrance in the east side parking lot; no running water. For a real bathroom, you need to visit the visitor center at the other part of Arabia Mountain only five minutes down the road.
🐶Pets: Bring them!
- No staff or rangers at the area other than in the visitor center.
- Lots of geocaches in the area.
- Look up a map online; you can follow the blue markers for the trail on the east side.
- The hiking on the west side with the visitor center is not well marked. Follow the cairn (stacks of stones) across the rocky surface.
- Research on their website for more information about the Junior Ranger program, trail maps, and upcoming events.
- The hike can be steep in areas and is especially slippery after a rain. Bring proper shoes.
- This is not a stroller walk and there are no paved walk ways.
- Before the hike, educate yourself and the kids on where it’s safe to walk to not damage the plant life. This area has endangered plant life and it is up to us to hike wisely and protect if for future adventurers.
- Prepare to wander. The blue trail is marked but pay attention. You may get turned around.
- There is a lake but not for swimming
Even though the surface of the granite may look at times like simply a lifeless rock, it isn’t. It has its own little ecosystem. The lichen starts to break down the surface of the rock which forms into shallow sandy areas which collect water with rain and condensation. With a variety of lichen and moss, these areas can even host frogs and salamanders.
Help protect this delicate system by staying on the rock. Don’t step in the depressions or shallow pits especially where there are plants growing. Hidden in the soil is lurking the endangered dimorph whose bright red blooms will cover the rock in April before blooming with its tiny white flowers.
Learn: endangered species, diamorpha, monadnock, lichen, solution pools
- Aware Wildlife Center shares the same parking lot and is open on weekends. Come here to meet some native rescued wildlife and learn about their care.
- Arabia Mountain Visitor Center and the west side of Arabia Mountain – Come back another day for this side and the visitor center. This side has miles of trails for walking and biking. Roam through the prior quarry to the lake and flowing stream area for water play and shaded nature hiking. Map to “Davidson-Arabia Nature Preserve” for this side of the nature preserve.
- Monastery of the Holy Spirit – An active monastery surrounded by 2,000 acres of history, reflection, and nature for you to explore.