With out of town guests, there’s always the question of things to do to make their visit to Atlanta enjoyable. For my active friends, hiking is always a great idea. In the couple years I’ve lived here, I never actually made it out to Stone Mountain Park – primarily because I thought it was a tourist trap geared towards kids. Granted, there are some touristy aspects of the park. However, given the supposed great views of the city, I decided to chance it for a hike to the top.
Just a short drive outside the city, we arrived through the West Gate from the village of Stone Mountain. After paying a $15 daily parking fee, we parked at the entrance to the “walk-up trail”. At the base is a visitors museum (with bathrooms!) that I would recommend popping into. There are some interesting displays & a video that gives you a brief background on the giant rock. Then you know what you’re walking on, and can look for markings in the rock beds that are a clue to its formation. The trail is a 1-mile fairly steep hike that begins a bit more moderately with lots of trees.
As you go higher, the trees dissipate and the trail steepens. I’ll admit, it was pretty darn steep, even for those of us in good shape! An alternative to hiking up is taking a cable car to the top – but where’s the challenge in that! In the very last portion, it’s so steep that there’s a steel railing built into the rock.
Once at the top, there are plenty of spots to find some shade & rest for a picnic (& a little fun, too!)
There is a little concession building at the top, as well. But, after all the fresh air & exercise, I’m not sure who wants this stuff!!?? So don’t forget to pack some healthy snacks & lots of water!
On the way back down, we diverted about halfway to the Cherokee Trail. It’s not well marked, and pretty hard to find – but basically – its near the giant clearing about halfway (you’ll know once you’re there). We thought we’d hit the steepest part… well, not so! This was a different kind of steep! The trail leads across the rocks below, which makes for a big ankle workout, folks.
At the bottom, we crossed over the Stone Mountain Railway tracks, and into a lovely forested path. So peaceful… but, what’s that sound? The train!
You can continue on the Cherokee Trail, which winds around the Park. Or turn off like we did to the Nature Garden Trail with marked signs indicating surrounding vegetation. This path winds back to the parking area.
Overall, a very nice way to spend a few hours in nature with an out of town guest, and not having to go far from city or spend a lot of money.