By Larry E. West
Stone Mountain Park located East of Atlanta delivers an abundance of adventure for the outdoor enthusiasts, with the lake for fishing, playgrounds for the children, biking for all ages, 15-miles of hiking and walking trails, and the historic features can keep a family busy for days. To explore the beautiful scenery the park has to offer the hiking trails are best with the two most popular hikes being the Walk-Up Trail and Cherokee Trail.
The only way to reach the summit of Stone Mountain is by the Shy Lift are walking the 2.1-mile round trip Stone Mountain Walk-Up Trail with an elevation gain of 700-feet. The trail starts near the Park’s Confederate Hall crossing the train track to the park’s flag display where the hike quickly starts to grab a consistent elevation change where near the top, the inclines become very steep. The trails surface is-made up of smooth swaths of rocky terrain where shallow pits of soil pepper the landscape, home to grasses and pine trees. The trail is a heart-thumping workout, but the tremendous views of the surrounding area and the historic carvings along the trail makes the effort very rewarding. The rugged 5-mile loop Cherokee Trail traverses the base of the mountain through a pine forest with 468-feet of elevation changes mainly due to the trail crossing the lower Western section of the Walk-up Trail. Starting at the old Grist Mill, the trail winds its way through the wooded banks next to Stone Mountain Lake with some spectacular views of the lake passing by the park’s historic wooden covered bridge. After crossing the earthen dam, the trail continues along the shores of Venable Lake with views of the mountains towering presence with its massive dome reflecting in the lakes rippling waters. After the trail crosses Robert E. Lee Blvd at the children’s playground, it starts some gradual inclines passing by a small waterfall and stone chimney of a log cabin long gone. Upon reaching the stone-walled base of the mountain, the trail starts a steep incline up the stone wall until it crosses the Walk-up Trail, where it descends down the other side and back into the pine forest. As the trail enters the auditorium area the views of the confederate carvings on the face of the mountain are beyond spectacular. The trail re-enters the forest until reaching the Grist Mill to complete the loop.
In addition to the long and strenuous trails, Stone Mountain Park has some short scenic trails for one’s enjoyment. Crossing the historic bridge to Indian Island is the 1-mile loop King’s Trail. This trail is family friendly with some slight inclines as it traverses the wooded banks of the Northern and Eastern shores of Stone Mountain Lake before turning inland through the center of the island back to the parking lot. The Nature Garden Trail may be a short.75-mile loop, but its packed with some of the park’s best natural beauty. The trail winds its way through a mature oak-hickory forest featuring mostly easy terrain crossing several mountain streams with roots and rocks along the way. Throughout the trail are numerous benches with interpretive signs identifying shade-loving native plants and flowering shrubs. A more moderate rated trail with some steep inclines is the 1.5-mile Trail of the Muscogee loop, named after the native Indians who once occupied this area. The trail starts with a slow, gradual climb through a hardwood forest crossing some ditches and rolling hills before reaching the lake. The return portion of the trail along the lakes bank becomes more technical with frequent grade changes with roots and native granite covering the path. The 1996 Summer Olympic Games Venue for Archery and Cycling is now the Park’s Songbird Habitat. The 1.75-mile loop trail winds through meadows and woodlands where native plants thrive.
For some Stone Mountain history visit the Quarry Exhibit which was developed to tell the story of an industry that removed the granite from the mountain to be used around the world. Over the years more than 7.5 million cubic yards were removed from the mountain and virtually every state has a building with Stone Mountain Granite in it. As time passed, the exhibit explains the role changes in technology made in the removal process. Due to the pandemic museums and some exhibits are closed at this time.
For a little of excitement away from Stone Mountain Park, The World of Coke Museum in downtown Atlanta is a great place for all ages showcasing the history of the Coke company. The complex covers 20-acres with multiple interacting exhibits, from sampling beverages from around the world to the new Scent Discovery exhibit. Sampling Coke beverages from around the world can be quiet a treat in itself as a Coke Ambassador explains facts and details about each product Coke features in other countries. One’s sense of smell is put to the test by guessing the origin of a variety of scent’s while being educated on the anatomy of smell, from reception to perception. The 3-D theater is a multi-sensory movie experience which takes the family on a journey around the world in the quest to find Coke’s secret formula. Bottle Works allows for one to get a close-up look at the equipment and processes found at a full-size bottling factory while learning some interesting facts about Coke’s bottling history. The loft section of the complex displays the rich heritage of yesterdays and today’s artifacts along with 125 years of Coke’s memories.
Since my wife and I started camping we have discovered that camping is one of the best ways to enjoy the great outdoors and to experience what mother nature and North America has to offer. One of the joys of camping is having all your home essentials with you. explorenorthamericawithus Besides, what better way to meet new and exciting people than by camping.