Happy New Year from the National Heritage Area

With a new year comes new resolutions – and, we hope, more time spent outdoors and exploring Georgia’s history and nature. We put together a few ideas as you think about the year ahead: 

1. Why hit the gym when you can hit the trails?

Nature lovers and fitness fanatics 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 the 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, the Georgia Piedmont has 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 folks want to learn more about history this year – the people and events that lead us to present day. As well as containing beautiful green space, the AMNHA recalls the powerful, 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 Arabia Mountain, and send the stone across the country. In addition to curbstones 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 Archives preserves and studies the history of this community and educates anyone interested in learning more about Georgia’s complicated past. 

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 during a day-visit and take a walk through the grounds and along the paved Arabia Mountain PATH trail that winds through the Monastery’s Honey Creek Woodlands. The Monastery of the Holy Spirit welcomes people of all faiths and backgrounds.

Monastery of the Holy Spirit

Do you have other resolutions you want to fulfill, or are you simply looking for more ways to explore 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!

Happy 2022! We know you’re excited to start exploring.