Stone Mountain is a great day trip out of Atlanta, whether or not hiking is your thing!
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Who’d have thought of Atlanta as a hiking spot, right? But not far out of the city you can find the perfect spot for a hike and a picnic!
On a summer Saturday, the place is packed! According to wikipedia, Stone Mountain is the most-visited designation in Georgia. From families to running groups, there are tons of people heading up Stone Mountain. But the paths are wide and don’t feel choked. I’d go early more to avoid the heat than crowds.
The hike up is short but steep. In some spots rocks makes stairs for climbing, but others are straight walks up such a steep incline that there are handrails installed! About half the trail is shaded by trees, and you can find lots of spots to take a breather and see the changing view.
It’s worth it to get all the way to the top! Nearly everyone makes it to the top and picks a spot to sit down and drink some water. The summit is bare rock rather than forest or meadow, with depressions in the rock holding recent rainwater. As we rested, my friends pointed out the skylines of midtown, Buckhead, and Dunwoody. The view goes for miles on all sides, and as I walked around the top I soaked in the green carpet of treetops below me.
This would be a great spot to pack and picnic and enjoy it at the top! You’ll have earned it for sure. Even if you don’t bring lunch, definitely carry plenty of water – the intensity will take it out of even experienced hikers.
Hiking not your thing? You can still get to the top via cable car and get a whole different view of the mountain on your way!
There’s way more to do in the park than climbing Stone Mountain. What I didn’t realize when we hiked that day is that the park considers itself a theme park. Since it’s privately owned, it doesn’t have the rustic feel of a state or national park. There’s a surprising amount of polish to it, from the slick advertising to the overpriced snacks in the cable car station. There are museums, a ropes course, and lots of kid-friendly areas as well as hiking trails and concerts most nights. There’s also an enormous carving memorializing Confederate leaders on one side that’s bigger in size than Mount Rushmore, but we didn’t go for that.
If you’re a local (or even close) it’s probably worth becoming a member because the price for an annual membership pays for itself after only two visits. Plus, the entrance fee is per car, so you can bring your friends for no extra charge!