We all make plenty of resolutions at the beginning of the year: to exercise more, to eat better, to spend time outside. If you made resolutions to be more active, to learn more about local history, or just to get out in the Arabia Mountain NHA, we are here to help. Check out the list below for tips and ideas for enjoying your National Heritage Area throughout the year.
1. Why hit the gym when you can hit the trails?
Nature lovers and fitness freaks alike can exercise on paths and trails across the National Heritage Area. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution recently ranked Arabia Mountain as one of Atlanta’s favorite hiking destinations, Panola Mountain State Park is one of Georgia’s beautiful unquarried monadnocks, and over 30 miles of bike trails run from historic downtown Lithonia all the way to the Monastery of the Holy Spirit, south of Conyers.
Hiking: For those who love a walk in the woods, you can choose either paved or soft trails, or a mix of the two. Davidson-Arabia Mountain Nature Preserve and Panola Mountain State Park are great places for hiking, with trails that meander through forest and across granite outcrops. As the weather gets warmer, make sure to bring water with you and be careful of taking dogs out on the rocks (they can be especially susceptible to the heat). These paths are also great for runners.
Biking: The Arabia Mountain PATH (AMP) trail is a paved trail that allows for biking throughout the NHA. Bicyclists regularly traverse the AMP, with routes that take riders through Panola Mountain State Park, Davidson-Arabia Mountain Nature Preserve, and along the South River towards the Monastery of the Holy Spirit. Although the paved trail does make biking easier, this is still the Georgia Piedmont, with plenty of hills to make the ride more strenuous. Bicyclists of all skill levels will enjoy exploring the National Heritage Area via the AMP.
2. Learn more about the past.
Some people want to spend each year learning more about history – the people and events that brought us to the present day. As well as containing beautiful greenspace, the AMNHA recalls the powerful and fascinating stories of this area.
Visit the City of Stone: Lithonia, GA rose to prominence as a bustling quarry town, where people worked to extract granite from nearby Arabia Mountain and send the stone across the country. As well as curb stones and grit for chicken feed, granite from this area was used to construct buildings such as the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. Now, you can view the historic main street and the Lithonia Women’s Club, the site of DeKalb County’s first public library, as well as other historical points of interest on a walking tour.
Discover a legacy of resilience: The community of Flat Rock is one of the oldest African-American communities in Georgia, founded by formerly enslaved people shortly after the Civil War. Today, the Flat Rock Archive preserves and studies the history of this community and educates anyone interested to learn more about Georgia’s complicated past. Guided tours lead you through a historic cemetery and to the Lyon House, the oldest homestead in DeKalb County.
3. Reflect and be mindful.
For those who want to live more intentionally in the new year, the Monastery of the Holy Spirit can provide space for reflection, no matter your religious beliefs. Visitors can learn about the history of the Monks and their order in a day visit, or take part in a retreat. The Monastery offers both unstructured personal retreats, for anyone seeking quiet and seclusion, as well as programed retreats. The Monastery of the Holy Spirit welcomes people of all faiths and backgrounds.
Do you have other resolutions you want to fulfill, or are you just looking for more ways to get out into the AMNHA? Be sure to check out our Events page throughout the year. We’re always posting about guided hikes, educational events, and much more on the website.
Happy 2019! We know you’re excited to start exploring.