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Hike around Stone Mountain via the Cherokee Loop with scenic off-trail Hidden Gems

The Basics:
Event Type:Hike
Event Location: Stone Mountain Park, ~15 miles E of downtown Atlanta   Hike: Hike around Stone Mountain via the Cherokee Loop with scenic off-trail Hidden Gems  National Weather Service Forecast
Date(s) & Time:Sat, Feb 12 2022  9:00 am >> Sat, Feb 12 2022 1:00 pm
Registration Opens: Tue, Feb 8 2022 9:00 am
Registration Cut Off: Sat, Feb 12 2022 7:00 am
Event Duration:4 Hours
Difficulty Rating:D3: Moderate
Distance:8 Miles
Trip Leader(s):
Charlie Cottingham
Mike H
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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


Event Plan and Where to Meet:  Hope you can join us for this adventurous hike through the forests, lakeshores and rocky outcrops that surround Stone Mountain.  The scenic terrain will including portions of the popular Cherokee loop trail.   We'll gather a few minutes before 9:00 AM by the stone restroom building adjoining the huge parking lot at the "Historical & Environmental Education Center" (a.k.a. "Confederate Hall") our usual AOC "Walkup-Trail" location for events inside the Park.  See Directions and GPS Info below (with tips about optional Free Parking in the adjoining Stone Mtn village + Free Entry for pedestrians & bicyclists.  The current 1-day inside-the-park Parking Fee is $20 and Annual Parking Pass $40.)
  Picnic Lunch:  Esp. since this hike will include the noon hour it should be fun to stop at a scenic spot along the way for a ~20-minute "al fresco" lunch.   For all who are interested let's bring lightweight food & beverage items in our daypacks.
  Route Description:  Our total hiking distance will be about 8 miles with about 700 feet of total uphill elevation gains.  We'll pause occasionally to take photos and discuss things of interest such as the famous Memorial Carving (photo above) and aerial tramway towering above it.   Along the way we'll also take a few short detours to a few "hidden gems": e.g. the NY World's Fair Carillon Tower, old Grist Mill, historic Covered Bridge (+ its adjoining Indian Island), outdoor Quarry Museum, historic Train Yard, Songbird Habitat trails and Native Plant Garden.  The route will require a little light "bushwhacking" from time to time, but our rewards will include rare flora & fauna and spectacular views of the granite monolith from all sides.
  We intend to observe the latest CDC's COVID-19 guidelines regarding social distancing, etc.   Let's each bring a mask and either wear it or be ready to quickly put it on if we need to pass other park visitors on narrow trails, etc.
  Well-behaved leashed dogs are allowed.  If you'd like to bring one please indicate your dog's name, breed, etc. in your registration notes.

Park Features & Activities:  Perhaps too often "taken for granite" by Atlantans, Stone Mountain Park features more than 3000 acres of ruggedly beautiful terrain, a wide variety of wild flora & fauna and a fascinating human history.  Hikers can enjoy more than 15 miles of scenic nature trails and walk or jog on paved walkways if you prefer.  It's also a great place for bicycling, camping, paddling, fishing or playing golf.  There are festive annual events including the Yellow Daisy Festival, Stone Mtn Christmas, and the "Fantastic 4th of July"  laser show, music & fireworks. Visitors who wish to learn more about the geology, history and ecology of the 300-million-year-old giant rocky "monadnock" can explore the Park's Historical & Environmental Heritage Center (formerly called Confederate Hall) and visit other museum displays in Memorial Hall (below the world-famous bas-relief carving).

For Online Trail Maps and More Info about the Park and its history, ecsystems, geology, etc. click these links:

Required Items to Bring:

   - Comfortable Hiking Shoes or Boots
   - Plenty of Water
   - COVID Mask, esp. for times when we have close encounters
with other groups along narrow trails, etc.

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

   - Trekking Poles (or a simple Hiking Stick)
   - Picnic Lunch of your choice in your Daypack: e.g. Sandwich, Fruit, Nuts, Boxed Drink, etc.
   - Lightweight Poncho or Umbrella in your pack in case of rain.

How to Get There:
Event Directions:

We'll gather for the Hike at the "Walk-Up Trailhead" inside Stone Mtn Park (our "usual" gathering spot for most AOC Stone Mtn hikes).  It's beside the stone restroom building about 75 yards toward the mountain from the "Historical & Environmental Education Center" (a.k.a. "Confederate Hall").
  GPS users can enter the following concise Lat/Lon as your destination address, being sure to include the comma & minus sign: 33.8107, -84.1617  For a zoomable map or satellite view of this spot click the square blue & green "Event Location" icon near the top of this article.

Directions and Parking Fees for Visitors who Prefer Driving into the Park:  The main entrance into the Park is the "East Gate" which has its own special "Exit #8" from the Stone Mtn Freeway.   Visitors who drive into the Park must purchase and display a valid Parking Pass: The current price is $20 per vehicle for a daily pass or $40 per vehicle for an annual pass, available from the entrance gate attendants - or buy one online in advance
  Assuming that you drive in via the East Gate, take Jefferson Davis Drive straight ahead for 1 mile and bear right at the big 3-way junction.  Continue via Robt. E. Lee Blvd another 1.1 mile to the "Historical & Environmental Education Center" (discussed above, on your left, avoiding the Park's "West Gate" exit at the 1-mile point).  Just past the large building turn Left into its large Parking Lot and park there.  Then walk a few yards toward the mountain to the above-discussed gathering spot & trailhead.

Optional Free Public Parking in nearby Stone Mtn Village and "Free Park Walk-In":  Park visitors are welcome to take advantage of this (as I, Charlie usually do - and park admission is always free for pedestrians and bicyclists).  Dozens of free spaces are usually available in the quaint historic village of Stone Mountain, about 1/2 mile outside the Park's "West" entrance.  For example, on weekends the Suntrust Bank is closed (at 5399 E Mountain St, Stone Mountain, GA, between 3rd Street and 4th Street) and its shady rear parking lot spaces along 4th street are always free. GPS and users can enter "Suntrust Mountain St GA" as your destination.  On all days of the week the Village also provides free public parking along Main Street (between the Mountain Street traffic light and historic train station/ gazebo/ visitor ctr).
  To walk (or ride your bike) from Stone Mtn Village to our AOC gathering spot inside Park near Confederate Hall:  Proceed eastward via the Mountain Street sidewalk and straight ahead into the Park via the steel pedestrian gate (where the street makes a sharp northward bend). Continue straight ahead toward the mountain and meet us at the restroom building on the far side of the parking lot discussed above.  Although the pedestrian gate is normally locked at night, hikers and cyclists can always enter and exit the Park "24/7" at no charge via the "West Gate" (mentioned above for drivers).

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

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