Arabia Mountain & Panola Mountain: our favorite hikes

Hike through beautiful and stunningly diverse landscapes at the Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area and Panola Mountain State Park just east of Atlanta.

The Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area spans hundreds of scenic acres just east of Atlanta, from breathtaking mountain summits and wildlife-filled grassy meadows to small, glassy lakes and wide-open fields of rock and boulders. The NHA includes two of our favorite hiking, running, and cycling destinations, Panola Mountain State Park and Arabia Mountain Nature Preserve. Despite its location just minutes east of downtown Atlanta, this is one fantastic destination for outdoor exploration, seemingly worlds away from the nearby urban cityscape.

Arabia Mountain’s massive exposed granite faces reveal its history as a quarry: cut granite slabs, drilled cores, and abandoned structures scatter along the mountain’s many trails. Today, Arabia is a serene world of exposed granite punctuated by lakes, wetlands, grassy meadows, and young forests. It’s one of the most popular hiking areas in metro Atlanta, and makes for a great urban escape.

Hike to stunning mountaintop beauty at Arabia Mountain and Panola Mountain near Atlanta, GA

Unlike its nearby neighbor, Panola Mountain was spared from granite production and is now home to a stunning, fragile ecosystem of rare plants, mosses, and lichens. And while access to the actual Panola Mountain summit is usually restricted, hikers can explore this beautiful landscape by way of a guide-led twilight tour.

Arabia Mountain & Panola Mountain trails: our favorite hikes

Throughout the National Heritage Area, over 30 miles of paved and unpaved trails wind through rugged mountain summits and wetlands, exploring diverse lichens and mosses, flowers and trees, and wildlife habitats. These are our favorite hiking, running and cycling trails at these two mountains, and they’re all equally worthy of an afternoon of exploration. If you’re in the area with energy – and daylight – to burn, combine two or more trails to explore this park’s incredible diversity of sights and landscapes.

  • Hike the Arabia Mountain Top Trail to a massive, sun-drenched summit just minutes east of Atlanta, GA

    Arabia Mountain Top Trail

    1.3 miles

    The Mountain Top Trail is Arabia Mountain’s can’t-miss hike, climbing to 360-degree views and wide-open skies. The trail’s distance and moderate climb make it especially beginner-friendly, and a popular place for a family hike near Atlanta. Hike the Mountain Top Trail after a rain to catch beautiful cloud reflections in the shallow water pools on the mountain’s cratered summit.
    VIEW TRAIL INFO & MAPS

  • Hike the Arabia Mountain Mile Rock Trail to a glassy lake in an abandoned rock quarry near Atlanta

    Mile Rock Trail and Forest Trail Loop

    2 mile loop

    Hike a two mile, kid-friendly trail through a stunning array of landscapes, from forest to wide-open granite expanses. The Mile Rock Trail visits a small, glassy lake that offers stunning autumn reflections of fall leaf color on the lake’s opposite shore.
    VIEW TRAIL INFO & MAPS

  • Hike to reflective Arabia Mountain views on the Mountain View Trail, just east of Atlanta, GA

    Arabia Mountain View Trail

    2.3 miles

    The Mountain View Trail hikes the mountain’s lower elevations, exploring a shady forest, open rock expanses, and a grassy meadow. The trail catches reflections of the mountain in a small lake, and grassy meadows on the lake’s shore make for a great place for a mid-hike picnic.
    VIEW TRAIL INFO & MAPS

  • Hike a guided twilight adventure at Panola Mountain State Park near Atlanta, GA

    Panola Mountain Guided Summit Hikes

    2-4 miles

    The Panola Mountain summit is usually off-limits to the public, due to the mountain’s colorful, fragile, rare plant life that covers the summit. Score access to the mountain on a guided twilight hike with a naturalist: you’ll learn about the mountain’s unique ecosystem, catch a stunning summit from the mountaintop, and watch the moon rise over a reflective lake at the mountain’s base.
    VIEW TRAIL INFO & MAPS

  • Hike the Arabia Mountain Cascade Trail to the tumbling, rocky cascades of Pole Bridge Creek

    Cascade Trail and Wilburn Farm Trail

    3.25 miles

    Hike a two-trail double loop, exploring small waterfalls on the Cascade Trail before trekking through wide-open, sun-drenched grasslands on the Wilburn Farm Trail to a historic barn. The trail also visits the ruins of an old farmhouse, and explores the banks of a small, grassy pond.
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  • Hike the Arabia Mountain Forest Trail, Mile Rock Trail, Klondike Boardwalk and Mountain Top Trails for an outstanding five-mile adventure near Atlanta

    Arabia Mountain Boardwalk Trail Loop

    5.1 miles

    Hike the park’s most scenic & popular trails! This multi-trail adventure explores scenic forests and the banks of Arabia Lake, travels the Klondike Boardwalk, and summits Arabia Mountain to stunning summit views.
    VIEW TRAIL INFO & MAPS

  • Run, hike, bike or walk the Panola Mountain PATH Trail to Alexander Lake near Atlanta, GA

    Panola Mountain PATH Trail to Alexander Lake

    5.15 mile loop

    It’s a great trail run or bike ride, filled with scenic beauty. This paved trail loops to the shore of Lake Alexander, travels through a historic barn, and follows a long, curved boardwalk at Panola Mountain State Park.
    VIEW TRAIL INFO & MAPS

  • Hiking gear list: our favorite, trail-tested gear and apparel for trail adventures in the South

    Our favorite hiking gear

    What to pack?

    Ready to hit the trail, but wondering what to pack? Our hiking gear list features our favorite, trail-tested hiking gear for day hikes on local trails and in the Georgia backcountry. Our outdoor apparel reviews feature our favorite trail-worthy hiking boots, running shoes, jackets, and layering essentials for the South. And no matter what you pack in, pack it all back out. Please leave no trace and help preserve Georgia’s beauty.
    OUR HIKING GEAR LIST

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