Map to Panola Mountain Trailhead
Map to Arabia Mountain Nature Center
|From PATH Arabia to Panola|
For our first venture out of the gate, we chose the Arabia Mountain Trail in DeKalb County. I had hiked Arabia before and I always wanted to make the run on my two-wheeler. The complete path is 22 miles with some nice thigh crunching uphills and exhilarating downhills, but we started at the Arabia Mountain nature center, limiting our sojourn to 16 miles.
Two words of caution: First, if you are making the complete trek I would start at the Panola Mountain Trail head near the Dekalb Rockdale Border. By starting where we did, you got some beautiful downhill runs to get the excitement building at the start, but they become two miles of mostly uphills for miles 15 and 16 after you are pretty tired on the way back. Second, when the boardwalk says “Slippery When Wet” and its wet, it is very slippery. We had the enjoyment of participating in a ugly three bike wreck less than a mile into our journey, and of course I was the first to taste the boardwalk wood.
The Path Foundation did an extremely admirable job with this trail. You pass the rock outcrops of Arabia with its colorful and exotic blooms. You run alongside a creek for a short portion. There’s a modern take on a covered bridge you zoom across on a long straight downhill. There’s a great bridge and sandy area to take a break at the South River at a point they call South Beach. And the Panola Trailhead is just across Lake Alexander which makes for a terrific mid point or end point depending on your direction. The very North end of the path takes you either to Stonecrest Mall or downtown Lithonia depending on your whim, but as I said we cut this part out of our trip.
I’m not giving up on the hiking. It makes for better clearing of the head and better photos, in my opinion. But if you are looking for a great way to get the blood moving, to enjoy the thrill of zipping down a hill, and want to see some great scenery, I can’t imagine a better place to start for the novice biker than the Arabia to Panola Path Trail. You could walk it if you want but even the 16 mile trip we took would probably require 5 or 6 hours.
Approximate Time: allow 4 hours
Approximate Distance: 22 miles
Skill Level: Intermediate, principally due to distance
Trail Surface: Paved
Features: Granite outcrops, modern Covered Bridge, Mountain View, River View, Lake View
Scenic Quality: A
Parking: Free at several locations
Hours of Operation: Daylight hours
Facilities: At Panola Trailhead, At Nature Center