Welcome back from the holidays, and welcome to a new year! We checked in with DeKalb County’s own Ranger Alex for a few tips on hiking at Davidson-Arabia Mountain Nature Preserve and throughout the National Heritage Area this year. Here’s what he had to say:
Arabia Alliance: So Ranger Alex, are guided hikes back at Arabia Mountain this year?
Ranger Alex: They sure are. Join me and the other park rangers for plenty of guided hikes, happening throughout the year. There are guided interpretive and recreation hikes every Friday and Sunday at 9am, and a walk-it-out exercise hike very Wednesday at 4. All of these events are free! To sign up for these and other hikes here.
AA: That’s exciting. People can also still come and enjoy the trails on their own as well, of course. Any hiking tips people should keep in mind this year?
RA: Great question. Well, we always encourage people to leave no trace when they come to Davidson-Arabia Mountain Nature Preserve. A big part of that involves staying on the trail. Sometimes we see what are called “social trails,” which refer to unofficial trails that cut across the natural habitat. If you see a social trail, try to stay off it, and stick to the official trail instead. A good clue is that official trails are usually marked by blotches of paint on the trees or on the rock outcrop, or they are marked by “cairns” (piles of stones). When in doubt and hiking on Arabia Mountain itself, try to stick to the bare rock whenever possible. That way, the vegetation gets left alone and can thrive for you to enjoy!
AA: Thanks for the clarification, Alex. Lastly, any volunteer events or other hikes we should know about?
RA: I can’t go without mentioning some of our volunteer events. The Nature Preserve gets a lot of use, which is great, and that makes it all the more helpful when people can come out and give us rangers a hand. You can join the first Stewardship Saturday on January 15th. There are more volunteer events in February, including a Flat Rock Culture & Volunteer Day on Feb. 12th and an Arbor Day tree planting (Feb. 18).
Also, there’s more to the National Heritage Area than Arabia Mountain! Sign up for one of the twice-weekly AWARE Wildlife Center tours, and don’t miss out on one of the monthly Friends of Panola Mountain State Park guided hikes. Happy exploring!