Arabia Mountain: hiking the Lake, Boardwalk, & Summit Trails
Hike five miles on Arabia Mountain's most scenic & popular trails, hiking through a rocky forest to a glassy lake, over the Klondike Boardwalk, and to outstanding summit views near Atlanta.
The Klondike Boardwalk Trail stretches .5 mile, bordering the often-busy Klondike Road on one side while catching views of an enormous, domed mountain summit on the other. And while it’s beautifully constructed, what this boardwalk connects makes it truly outstanding: several of the best trails in the Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area.
This 5.1-mile hike near Atlanta trails beneath towering pine on the Forest Trail, skirts the shores of the glassy Arabia Lake, treks wide-open rock expanses on the Mile Rock Trail, and summits the park’s mountain on the Mountain Top Trail for some outstanding, take-your-breath-away, long-range views. This route packs more beauty and scenic diversity into five miles than any other we’ve hiked in Metro Atlanta.
Arabia Lake, Boardwalk, & Summit Trails: the hike
The hike begins at the Arabia Mountain Nature Center trailhead (view maps and driving directions), hiking North from the parking area on the unpaved Forest Trail. The hike rolls elevation through a pine forest, trekking over a trail littered with pine needles. Dappled sunlight streams down through the towering canopy of pine trees above.
The Forest Trail skirts sections of exposed rock as it arcs southwest, passing a broad, rocky clearing at .5 mile that’s littered with boulders, mosses, and lichen. The hike reaches the lake at .85 mile, catching reflective views of the opposite shore in the lake’s often-glassy surface. The concrete and metal remains of a bridge punctuate the center of the lake, framed by tall grasses and trees.
Departing the lake’s shore, the hike trails uphill, passing an open-walled shelter on trail right and beginning to follow the park’s Mile Rock Trail. The trail follows large, cemented rock cairns in this section of the hike as it treks through wide-open, mostly-barren fields of rock. Small streams cascade over the open stretches of rock; watch your step – the smooth rock surface can be very slippery when wet. Lichens and mosses encrust the rock surface, and shallow craters collect enough soil to host pockets of wildflowers and grasses on this sun-drenched, barren landscape.
Continuing to follow the cairn trail markers, the Mile Rock Trail passes the remains of several buildings, evidence of the area’s quarry past, and a grassy marsh. The trail diverges at 1.75 miles, and this hike swings right, soon meeting the park’s paved PATH Trail. The route follows the paved PATH southwest (with Klondike Road on trail left), crossing the road at 2 miles and hiking the wide, wooden Klondike Boardwalk.
The Klondike Boardwalk passes the mountain’s lower elevations on the left, catching views of a partially wooded landscape that’s filled with mosses, lichens, grasses, marshes and small streams. Reaching the boardwalk’s end at 2.55 miles, the hike crosses through a gravel parking lot to reach the trailhead of the Arabia Mountain Top Trail.
The hike treks the Mountain Top Trail eastbound, following rock cairns through a landscape of grasses, wildflowers, and sweet-scented pine. The hike veers left at 2.9 miles, turning northbound and beginning a steep climb to the summit. The Mountain Top Trail reaches the summit at 3.2 miles, catching 360-degree views of the surrounding landscape, and a lake at the mountain’s base to the East.
Craters dapple the mountain’s smooth-faced summit, catching rainwater and reflective views of the wide-open skies overhead. And in early springtime (usually February to March), these pools fill with a tiny, crimson succulent plant named diamorpha. The Arabia Mountain summit is just outstanding: it’s a scenic, photogenic landscape that’s ever-changing – and ever-beautiful – in every season.
The hike departs the summit and doubles back to the Mountain Top Trailhead and retraces its steps on the Klondike Boardwalk Trail northbound. The route reaches the boardwalk’s end at 4.6 miles. After crossing Klondike Road, the hike turns right to follow the paved PATH Trail to the nature center trailhead, completing the adventure at just over 5 miles.
Arabia Mountain Lake, Boardwalk, & Summit Trail Map, Directions & Details
Free parking is available at the National Heritage Area trailhead on Klondike Road.
33.672095, -84.117488 // N33 40.326 W84 07.049