If you’re looking for a distinctly local experience near Atlanta, visit Arabia Mountain, located in the nearby town of Lithonia. Arabia Mountain is Stone Mountain’s cooler, less crowded, and less controversial sibling (no massive confederate memorial etched into the side).
Lithonia—which means “city of stone”—was a busy quarry town well into the 20th century. The foundation of Arabia Mountain is the lunar-like granite outcrop known as monadnocks, isolated hills or mountains that stand above lower-lying plains and are created by exposure as the result of erosion. Visitors who take the 1.3-mile Arabia Mountain Top Trail hike will see craters filled with Diamorpha (fleshy red succulents that are only found growing in hard, crystalline rock), evidence of the history of granite extraction, water pools, and lakes, and will be rewarded with 360-degree views at the top.
Arabia Mountain is part of the greater Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area, a 2,550-acre nature preserve. In addition to the trail up the mountain, there are more than 30 miles of hiking and biking trails The trails connect a number of cultural, historic, and natural sites in the surrounding area. There’s a lot of history behind this rock and its alien landscape, but just know that it’s well worth the drive of roughly 30 minutes from downtown Atlanta.
Know Before You Go
Plenty of hiking that's not too strenuous. Starting from the visitor's center, it's all paved roads and boardwalks to the mountain's base. There's a small parking lot at the base of the mountain, at 4158 Klondike Rd, but it fills quickly so plan to arrive early!
The mountain itself is not much of a climb... but it's massive.