Easily making you feel as if you are transported to another world, the Arabia Mountain Top Trail offers stunning 360-degree panoramic views of metro Atlanta. On this giant monadnock, the rare diamorpha plants bloom each spring while clouds cast their reflections in the shallow granite pools that collect water after recent rain showers. Fall time provides a different scene as the trees begin to change colors and yellow wildflowers dot the unworldly landscape.
This hidden gem is located in Dekalb County and is only approximately 25 minutes from downtown Atlanta. If you look hard enough, you will be able to spot the tiny Atlanta skyscrapers in the distance. But once you reach the top of the Arabia Mountain Top Trail, it will be hard to believe you are only a few miles away from a busy metropolis.
You will want to add this unique landscape to your list of places to see when you visit Atlanta! This article covers information on accessing the beautiful Arabia Mountain Top Trail, including visiting and hiking tips.
Quick Facts about Arabia Mountain Top Trail
Length: Little over 1.1 miles roundtrip
Hiking Difficulty: Easy to Moderate (hiking difficulty can vary). Moderate to steep elevation gain hiking to the top.
Dogs Allowed?: Yes, on a leash.
Entrance Fee: Free!
Trailhead Parking Address: The closest parking to the trailhead is at the AWARE Wildlife Center, located at 4158 Klondike Road, Stonecrest, GA 30038. You can also park at the Davidson-Arabia Mountain Nature Center at 3787 Klondike Road, Stonecrest, GA 30038, a little over a mile from the trailhead.
Other overflow parking areas are listed here, but these lots are further away from the Arabia Mountain Top Trailhead.
400 Million Years in the Making
Arabia Mountain and the surrounding land have a rich agricultural and historical past and are part of the Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area. When you stand on the top of Arabia Mountain, think about this: you are standing on something that took over 400 million years to form!
Humans have inhabited this area for thousands of years, and remnants of its past are evident, especially with the dairy and quarry industries in recent decades. Granite quarried from Arabia Mountain can be found in various structures across Atlanta and the United States today.
You can also stop by Vaughters’ Barn (part of Panola Mountain State Park) to glimpse the faded rural farm life that has diminished over time due to urban growth. There is even a Trappist monastery on-site called Monastery of The Holy Spirit. Regretfully, I didn’t get a chance to step inside the monastery, but maybe next time!
If you visit during certain times in March and April, you’ll see patches of little red succulent plants on Arabia Mountain, and as springtime progresses, they bloom into tiny white flowers. They are fascinating plants that make you wonder if they were transported here from another planet.
And the red diamorpha, an endangered species, is incredibly rare; out of the entire world, they are found mainly in Georgia, with the most on these granite outcrops.
Frequently checking to make sure I didn’t step on them, I struggled taking pictures of these red beauties. If you want a good closeup photo of them, you will most likely want to bring a macro lens and a tripod. I didn’t bring my tripod, and it was a windy day, so I did the best I could to photograph them!
Know Before You Go
You should know a few things before you hike the Arabia Mountain Top Trail:
- It is free to visit Arabia Mountain! On weekends, arrive early to get the best parking spots.
- Do not leave any valuables whatsoever in your vehicle. Unfortunately, there have been car break-ins at Arabia Mountain, and you do not want to leave anything of value in your car (especially if you are a photographer with gear). In fact, we cleaned out the entire vehicle before going to Arabia Mountain. I did not want to take any chances.
- Check your weather before you leave. You don’t want to be on the top of Arabia Mountain if it storms.
- The granite can get very hot, especially in the summer. You will want to bring plenty of water for the hike. Also, if you have your four-legged friend with you, you might consider hiking the Arabia Mountain Top Trail when it is cooler outside. The granite might become too hot for their paws.
- For amenities, there are a few picnic benches, a bathroom at the Davidson-Arabia Mountain Nature Center, and some porta-potties at the AWARE Wildlife Center.
- Do you want to hike further than the Arabia Mountain Top Trail? If so, there are over 30 miles of trails known collectively as the Arabia Mountain Path (AMP). The AMP trail map can be found here.
- The Arabia Mountain Path also connects you to Panola Mountain State Park next to Arabia Mountain.
Where Should You Park?
Parking can be a bit of a pickle, especially on the weekends. We thought that if we arrived by 9:30am on a Sunday, there would be plenty of parking at the trailhead. We were wrong.
There were zero parking spots at the AWARE Wildlife Center, the closest parking location to the trailhead. After waiting five minutes, hoping that someone would leave, we begrudgingly drove about a mile down the road to find the next nearest parking lot at the Davidson-Arabia Mountain Nature Preserve.
Thankfully we found a parking spot at the nature preserve, but it was filling up fast with cars. Keep in mind that this was a gorgeous spring day in Atlanta; however, if you plan to visit on the weekends, you might want to arrive very early!
Also, prepare to walk an additional 15 to 20 minutes if you have to park at the Davidson-Arabia Mountain Nature Center. You can find the trailhead near the nature preserve building next to the parking lot. It’s not a bad walk from the Davidson-Arabia Mountain Nature Center to the AWARE Wildlife Center, as the trail is flat and mainly on a boardwalk.
There are additional parking spaces further away from the Arabia Mountain Top Trail. You can find more information about the overflow parking here.
Hiking the Arabia Mountain Top Trail
The Arabia Mountain Top Trail is not a traditional trail where you have a clearly defined path that points you in a specific direction. It’s a bit hard to carve out a passage in a large piece of granite; therefore, they have cairns to show you the way. Follow the cairns to the top to see the lovely 360-degree view.
We didn’t hike further than the granite outcrop closest to the parking lot, but you can venture down to the lake and hike back up another granite hill.
But watch your step as you hike the granite outcrops. There are many shallow hollows in the granite, sometimes filled with water from recent rain showers. Dogs are strongly encouraged not to jump in these shallow pools since many organisms and plant life inhabit them.
Overall, it’s a great hike! Yes, there is some elevation gain, but it doesn’t seem to last forever, and your end destination and the incredible view is in sight!
Have you hiked the Arabia Mountain Top Trail before? If so, please comment below!
If you enjoyed this article, you might also like another unique trail in Atlanta: The Doll’s Head Trail!