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Hidden Gems of Stone Mountain: An afternoon Adventure w/ Free Parking & Park Entrance

The Basics:
Event Type:Hike
Event Location: OUTSIDE the PARK in SunTrust Bank parking lot, 5399 E Mountain St, Stone Mountain, GA   Hike: Hidden Gems of Stone Mountain: An afternoon Adventure w/ Free Parking & Park Entrance  National Weather Service Forecast
Date(s) & Time:Sun, Jan 6 2019  1:00 pm >> Sun, Jan 6 2019 4:30 pm
Registration Opens: Fri, Jan 4 2019 8:00 am
Registration Cut Off: Sun, Jan 6 2019 12:00 pm
Event Duration:3 Hours 30 Minutes
Difficulty Rating:D3: Moderate
Distance:7 Miles
Trip Leader(s):
Charlie Cottingham
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Member Cost:None

Participant Info:
Who's Invited: Members Only, 21 And Older Only
Maximum Group Size:15
Minimum Group Size:2
Number Registered So Far: 14 / 0 (To see who's signed up, log in to the Member Area)
Are Dogs Permitted: Yes


IN a NUTSHELL:  The weather this Sunday afternoon is expected to be ideal for hiking - in the low-60s with clear blue skies!  Hope you can join me for this moderately-paced "adventure hike."
Perhaps too often we Georgians "take Stone Mountain for granite!" :-)   Boasting an amazing 300-million-years-old geologic history, the massive monolith and its surroundings rival virtually any other natural area in the country, with craggy rock formations, beautiful lakes, rare native plants, and abundant birds & wildlife. The hundreds of acres of diverse terrain in the world-famous "Memorial Park" offer much to explore beyond the usual popular attractions and overused trails that most visitors limit themselves to.  "The Rock" is also associated with many fascinating stories about its human history, which have become even more relevant now that the Park's
 connections with the Civil War and its gigantic Confederate carving have become so controversial.
  On this partly off-trail hike we'll explore many of Stone Mountain's little-known and seldom-visited scenic spots.  When we've offered this hike in the past, it has proved to be an eye-opener both for newcomers to GA and for "veteran" AOCers who had previously enjoyed only the Park's most heavily traveled areas.  We'll explore portions of at least SEVEN different trails over about 7 miles of varied terrain, taking a moderate pace.  We'll get in a good aerobic workout on the various uphill climbs, but pause at appropriate times along the way to regroup and to enjoy & photograph the rocky scenery and wild flora & fauna.

WHERE & WHEN:  We’ll gather a few minutes before 1:00 PM OUTSIDE the PARK in the free parking lot of the SunTrust Bank in the quaint old village of Stone Mountain.  (See detailed Directions & GPS Info below).  As pedestrians we'll also have the privilege of free Park entrance. 

HIKE ITINERARY:  After introductions we’ll hike into the Park via the half-mile paved "PATH" spur trail similar to NW Atlanta's "Silver Comet."  We'll then pick up the orange-blazed Connector Trail that will take us eastward to the green-blazed Nature Garden Trail.  While in that area we'll enjoy the special displays of native GA wildflowers, trees and shrubs.  We'll then enjoy a pretty lakeside trail through the Boy Scout campground that connects to the white-blazed Cherokee Trail.  After a short walk up the shoulder of Stonewall Jackson Drive we'll explore the Songbird Habitat Area via its lush Meadow Trail and Woods Trail.  From there we'll hike down to a waterfall on the Cherokee Trail via a lovely short unmarked creekside trail and continue (partly via the "Cherokee") all the way around the mountain (counterclockwise).  Off-trail stops will include the old Train Yard  - also the outdoor Quarry Museum whose fascinating displays depict the history of the mountain's granite quarrying industry, which thrived from the late 1800s until the 1960s.  We'll also hike via a lovely lakeside peninsula and causeway to the historic Carillon tower from the 1964 NYC World's Fair.

  Along the way we intend to avoid disturbing the flora or fauna and to leave the mountain and its surrounding terrain in better shape than we find it by picking up and carrying out some of the bits of trash left by previous hikers.  I'll bring a few small bags along for this worthy AOC "spruce-up" effort.
  We'll target arriving back at our vehicles in Stone Mtn village by 4:30 PM.
  You're welcome to bring your well-behaved dog provided he or she is leashed and under your control at all times. Please so indicate in your signup notes if you plan to bring a canine companion.

- Click here for Andrey Kundin's album from our Oct 2018 off-trail adventure:
- Click here for Marcus Kubota's album from our similar "bouldering scramble" in Nov 2010:
- Click these links for more about Stone Mountain and its trails & attractions:

Required Items to Bring:

1.  Wear well-broken-in Hiking Boots or Athletic Shoes with a good rock-gripping tread and sturdy heel & ankle support - also preferably synthetic or wool-blend Socks.

2.  Wear comfortable Clothing appropriate for the weather.

3.   Hydrate well (in advance) and bring at least a Liter of Water in bottles, or in your "Camelbak-style" hydration system, etc.

4. Consider bringing in a light Daypack or Fanny Pack some light emergency Rain Gear - also a few Snack items such as an apple, trail mix, etc.  You can munch on them at occasional scenic stops along the way.

Recommended Items to Bring:
Use our Event Checklists to make sure you have everything you need.

1.  Trekking Poles are a good idea for extra stability on rocky inclines, etc., esp. if you already have a pair and like to use them.

2.  Bring your Camera or SmartPhone for our numerous Photo-Ops!

How to Get There:
Event Directions:

DIRECTIONS to our Free Parking and Gathering Spot - theSUNTRUST BANK parking lot in Stone Mtn Village:  For hiking groups such as ours we can park here and take advantage of the always-free Park admission for pedestrians and bicyclists.  For a zoomable color online street map or satellite view of this spot click the square blue & green "Event Location" icon near the top of this article.  (Parking in the Village avoids the Inside-the-Park parking fees, currently $20 per day per vehicle, or $40 per year for the Park's "annual pass.")
GPS or USERS:  To augment my written directions below you can enter as your Destination Address either of the following:
Street Address:  5399 E Mountain St, Stone Mountain, GA 30083
Concise Lat/Lon of our Gathering Spot in the bank's parking lot:  33.8076,-84.1686

1.  From "Spaghetti Junction" (the I-285/I-85 interchange in NE Atlanta) take "I-285 East" (actually southward) toward Augusta) about 4.7 miles.
2.  Take I-285 Exit #39B (bearing Right off I-285 in a clockwise loop).  Merge onto Stone Mountain Pkwy/ US-78 E (toward Snellville/Athens), and go about 5.9 miles.
3.   At Exit #5 bear Right onto the Memorial Drive/Stone Mountain Bypass, and go only about 0.6 milethen bear Right again at your first opportunity up the E. Ponce de Leon Ave. access ramp.
4.  Turn Left onto E. Ponce de Leon Ave. and go 0.5 mile to the first traffic light.
5.  Bear slightly rightward at the light onto Main Street and continue southward through Stone Mtn village for 0.2 mile to next traffic light.
6.  Turn Left onto E. Mountain St, go just 2 blocks and look for the SunTrust Bank on your right.
Turn Right onto 3rd Street (just before the bank) - then turn Left into the bank's free Parking Lot where we'll gather for the hike.  The bank is closed on weekends and plenty of spaces are normally available for visitors to the Village and the adjoining Park.

* We encourage all members to follow our Etiquette Guidelines while participating in AOC events.

Cost Includes:

Free Event with free Parking and free Stone Mtn Park pedestrian entrance!

Cancellation/Partial Attendance:   Please review the AOC cancellation policy.