As you look to get outside this winter, the Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area offers dozens of trails to stay physically distant, get a breath of fresh air, and enjoy the natural beauty of the Georgia Piedmont. Here’s a few suggestions for scenic winter hikes:
1. Vaughters’ Farm Meadow Loop: Located at 3366 Klondike Road, Vaughters’ Farm is one of the last dairy landscapes in once-rural DeKalb County. Meander through the gorgeous Meadow Loop Trail, beginning behind the barn, and see rolling hills covered in forest and grassland. Opening up into sweeping vistas at the western end of the loop, this pastoral trail offers a relaxing afternoon under the sun. Get started by clicking here. If you haven’t explored the rest of Panola Mountain State Park, be sure to explore trails like the Rock Outcrop Trail this holiday season.
2. The Lyon Farm: Although the Flat Rock Archives itself remains closed to the public due to the pandemic, you can still visit an important part of the Flat Rock Community’s history: the Lyon Farm. Park at the dead-end of Lyons Road (after it crosses Browns Mill Road) and walk down the PATH to see one of the oldest homesteads in the area. Recently stabilized, this structure offers a glimpse into early American settlement in the area and the history of enslavement in Georgia (the Flat Rock ancestors were enslaved at this innocuous farm). You can take a self-guided tour once you arrive at the farmhouse, with educational signage discussing the history and significance of the site. Learn more here.
3. Wilburn Farm Trail: Continuing our farm theme, try out one of the lesser-known trails at Davidson-Arabia Mountain Nature Preserve. Step out of the woods and walk through the beautiful grasslands of this former farm site, including the remnants of farm and homestead buildings. Access to the trail is at 4028 Evans Mill Road. The trail is marked with orange paint stripes and ends just after the old homestead ruins and pond.
4. Trails at the Monastery of the Holy Spirit: The Monastery includes one of the largest privately protected greenspaces in metro Atlanta, and you can enjoy the lush forest as you walk, run or bike along the paved PATH trail. Park at the trailhead at 2625 Hwy. 212 SW and then hop on the PATH from there. The trail will take you through Honey Creek Woodlands, north across the South River, and towards the rest of the National Heritage Area. You can also enjoy the grounds around the Monastic Heritage Center and in front of the Abbey Church. Plan your visit here.
5. The Lithonia Woman’s Club and Historic Downtown Lithonia: Human history is just as important a part of the National Heritage Area as our beautiful natural spaces, and you can discover how they are all connected when you visit Lithonia. Constructed during the granite quarry boom that shaped the area, much of downtown Lithonia is listed on the National Register for Historic Places. You can also walk through the historic gateway to the National Heritage Area at 2564 Wiggins Street, where a pocket park displays the business, civil rights, and community leaders who shaped Lithonia. Check out a Lithonia walking map here.
6. The South River: With numerous trailheads dotting its banks and large sections of the Arabia Mountain PATH running alongside the waterway, there are numerous ways to enjoy the South River. Try hopping on the trails at Panola Shoals, DeCastro, or Lorainne Trailheads. Plan your trip here.