The 3 Best Springtime Hiking Trails with Shade in the NHA

Let big beautiful trees shade you as you hike or bike this spring on the coolest trails at Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area! We’ve explored the AMP and hiking trails for areas that shelter you with leafy canopies. While you enjoy lower temperatures in the shade, you’ll also pass by bubbling streams, historic landmarks, and calm reflective lakes. Read our “Best of” list now and enjoy a shady summer stroll!

Prepare for your outing with plenty of water, bug spray, and sunscreen. It’s also a good idea to bring a cell phone and a trail buddy (and click here for a downloadable map of the Davidson-Arabia Mountain Nature Preserve or here for the AMP).

1st hike#3 Evans Mill and Wilburn Farm

The Evans Mill ruins are found next to a calm stream banked with tall trees. Start your hike at the Evans Mill trailhead and take a few moments to watch the water flow; see if you can spot the remains of the historic dam before heading out. You can venture out along the Cascade Trail (.80 miles, orange blaze) until it intersects the paved AMP. Turn left onto the AMP to head back to the trailhead or, for a longer hike, cross the AMP and follow the Wilburn Farm Trail (1.6 miles, orange blaze). At the end of the loop, a right turn on the Boomerang Trail (red blaze) returns you to the AMP, and a mile walk on the paved PATH to the trailhead. This longer hike is about 4 miles total. Bikes are not allowed on the soft trails, but leashed dogs are welcome.

2nd hike

#2 Alexander Lakes to the Lyon Farm

Start at the calm waters of Alexander Lakes at Panola Mountain State Park, cross the levee between the lakes and quickly escape the sun under the canopy of pine trees and oak hammocks. You’ll slip past a historic barn and have a bird’s-eye view as you cross high above the South River. You can turn around here for a 3-mile roundtrip, or go all the way to the historic Lyon Farm for a 5-mile hike. Want more of a challenge? Head west at the farm for a winding walk along the South River to Panola Shoals, where you’ll turn around and return on the same route. This option adds about 4 miles. Cyclists, hikers, and explorers with leashed pets can use the paved AMP for this adventure.
3rd hike

#1 Laurel Creek Loop

This family-friendly hike is about 2.5 miles long and is perfect for a quick summer getaway that feels like you’re in the mountains. It’s also one of the least traveled trails at the Davidson-Arabia Mountain Nature Preserve. The easiest access is from Murphey Candler Elementary School (weekend & evening parking only). Walk a short way down the AMP and look for the white-blazed trail that leads you through Georgia hardwoods before reaching the cascading Laurel Creek. Blooms such as mountain laurel and dogwoods can often be spotted along the banks, and butterflies enjoy their sweet nectar. Make sure to take time to venture off-trail to observe the “rapids” upon arriving at the creek. Bikes are not allowed on this trail, but leashed dogs are welcome.

Wherever you are, remember to Leave No Trace! That means taking only pictures and leaving the landscape untouched behind us. Check out the above video from Ranger Robby for more info.