A state park that defies stereotypes about Dekalb as one of metro Atlanta's most heavily populated and urban counties.
Today was the epitome of fall in Georgia--blazing colors in the trees and weather cool enough to wear a jacket but warm enough to take it off after you've hiked a few miles, which is what I spent a few hours doing on Sunday. My best friend Evan had a few minutes in Atlanta on the way back to Augusta, and he decided to stop by. I had planned on sitting in front of the computer for a few hours before I got his call. I had the door open and a soft wind rustled through the trees behind our terrace level apartment. With Evan on his way, Katy at work and nothing else to do, I decided it was the perfect time to get outdoors.
We had planned for Stone Mountain, but as I searched the Internet for the park's hours and fees, I noticed how frilly its Web site had become. Attractions filled up the whole homepage, and colorful, gimmicky ads promised visitors the time of their lives. I was already beginning to have my doubts when the clincher came: $8 per car to get into the park. I assume this is to cover the added amenities Stone Mountain offers, stuff like light shows and huge granite reliefs of confederate soldiers. You know, touristy luxuries for families to enjoy, the things that lonely hikers like to avoid.
When Evan arrived, we searched the Internet for a better trail, limiting the parameters to Dekalb County. Georgiatrails.com turned up another trail that, like Stone Mountain, travels over a granite outcropping rising above the Georgia forests. No one knows where Arabia Mountain got its name. Even the moderators of the area's Web site are looking for information. But what's for sure is that the place offers a great hike: a great workout (I think we did about 3.5 miles over varying elevations), good views of the sunset, interesting geological structures and low crowds even on the weekend. Also, Arabia Mountain is free and has a name that is hands-down way more interesting and exotic than Stone Mountain. Nobody's scratching their heads about that one.
As is the case with most trips Evan and I undertake, there was adventure by the bucketload. During one of our off-trail ventures, we found a chicken farm, and we trespassed on some people's driveways as we thrashed through the trees, trying to find our way back to the road through the encroaching darkness. Although we could see the tips of skyscrapers peeking over the distant trees to the West and Delta planes swooped into the airport like red-tailed hawks, this was Southeast Dekalb, and Atlanta's cityscape was the farthest thing from our minds. (One of our most exciting discoveries was an animal rescue facility, which I'll post about later.)
After almost two hours of breathing afresh, we dodged a brake-slamming, tire-squealing near-collision on the interstate and made it back to civilization in time to pick Katy up from work. Although it's more than 20 minutes away, Dekalbi Arabia is my new place to roam.