Warm Winter Wonders

Put away your mittens and hang up your coat; the warm weather seems here to stay. The next few weeks are expected to remain in the mid-50s, so we’ve created a Top Five List of ways you can take advantage of our warm winter wonderland. Read below to find out about the red pools of Arabia, hidden ruins and seasonal surprises. If the weather gets cooler, check out the Discovery News article that inspired this story.

1. Find Hidden Ruins

Arabia Mountain was once a bustling quarry, and granite buildings, homestead foundations and mystery structures are revealed every winter after the leaves fall. Many of the ruins can now be spotted near the marked trails, but make sure to ask Ranger Robby for hints on the best locations to find these historic structures.

2. See Elf Orpine

See the red pools of Arabia and Panola Mountains. Every winter, elf orpine (formally known as diamorpha) fills the solution pits on the mountains, and its bright crimson leaves transform the landscape. They started early this year, so you’re sure to get a beautiful view on your hike. The biggest and brightest pools of red are visible along the Arabia Mountain Top Trail. Large pools are also visible at the top of Panola Mountain. The area is protected, however, so you can only see the plants during a guided hike.

3. Experience a Whole New World

Despite the high temps, the change in the amount of sunlight still has a profound effect on plants and animals. These major changes in the natural world mean that a tree-lined rushing stream looks completely different in winter than in summer, and it offers its own sort of beauty. Parks are especially beautiful in the winter. You can see this effect for yourself along the Cascades Trail.

4. Sunlight Combats Depression

Seasonal affective disorder, sometimes called winter blues, is a type of depression that occurs during the winter. Symptoms include weight gain and lethargy. The most common treatment is bright light therapy because it simulates the beneficial effects of natural sunlight. This is not to say that spending time outside will save you from depression—but it’s clear that spending months at a time inside, surrounded by artificial light, just isn’t healthy.

5. Have a Park All to Yourself

Winter is underrated, and that’s good news for the few who are smart enough to take advantage of drastically thinned crowds to explore Metro Atlanta parks. Trails can often be more pristine when no one is around, and they offer a beauty that’s totally different from what you see in the summer.