Stone Mountain – Walk Up Trail

October 28, 2010
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Stone Mountain, Georgia

Distance: 1.0 mile (one way)

Difficulty: Moderate

Stone Mountain

Stone Mountain is a unique geological granite mountain, forming a round bald of rock rising up south of the Atlanta skyline. The walk up trail takes hikers to the summit of Stone Mountain by means of a primarily open granite trail. For the most part, the trail is a very gradual up hill walk. At the end, though, it becomes much steeper, even requiring handrails at one point. The trail itself does not go near the “edge” of the mountain, but throughout the trail there are numerous places to look off the mountain for spectacular views. Ultimately, the payoff for the hike is the 360 degree view from the top of Stone Mountain.

Trailhead

First, those that don’t hike (you’re probably not reading this site), there is an option of taking a tram to the top of Stone Mountain. For those that enjoy the hike as much as the destination, the trailhead is tough to find once inside the park.The parking area for this is actually located at the Confederate Hall. Once there, the trail is marked with a yellow blaze painted occasionally along the rock. The trail was extremely busy on the Sunday I hiked, and I’m guessing it’s even busier on warm Saturdays.

Stone Mountain

The Trail

Stone Mountain

As the trail continues, it becomes slightly steep and drifts into a very light forest of pines. If one pays attention to the ground, there are numerous names carved into the rock. At first, I assumed these were vandals, and I was offended, but looking closely, I noticed something amazing. Some of these carvings had dates in the 1800′s. These carvings were made by visitors from over 100 years ago, and continued to be made throughout the time when Stone Mountain was used as a granite quarry.

Stone Mountain Stone Mountain

Approximately half way up the trail, a shelter sits in the middle of the trail. One of the best views along the actual trail is just to the left of the shelter. The mountain side is lined with a protective fence, here, but the views over the park are very nice. The fence can be followed for  a short distance where we saw three hawks soaring around. We also saw some wonderful wildflowers in this area.

Stone Mountain Stone Mountain

Stone Mountain Stone Mountain

Just past the shelter the trail begins the real climb to the top. The trees quickly begin to disappear, and the first dramatic views of Atlanta appear.

Shortly after the trees disappear, a very steep section of trail begins. This section actually contains hand rails up the mountain. The section is very short, maybe 50 feet, but the rails should be used (especially going down, we saw a girl slip and nearly fall down the entire length).

Stone Mountain Stone Mountain

After this, the trail briefly flattens out, before the final summit. The final summit becomes increasingly steep, and is probably the hardest part of the trail. It also happens to be the widest area as well, which provides several options for walking up. The less steep, but longer climb follows the white (service vehicle) line to the left.

Summit of Stone Mountain

Stone Mountain

Once on top of Stone Mountain, hikers can visit the visitor’s center on the far right corner. The center only has a few signs about the geology of the mountain, a concession stand, and the tram departs from there. Hikers can explore the perimeter of the mountain top along a chain link fence.

Stone MountainStone Mountain

If one looks behind them in the direction of the trail head, the Atlanta skyline, Buckhead, and Kennesaw Mountain can be seen in the distance. To the west, the airport towers can be seen on a clear day. To the south and east, one can see how geological different Georgia is. Mountains to the north, lowlands to the south. The view really is stunning.

Stone Mountain Stone Mountain

Take some time to take it all in. The return is the save route.

Notes:

If possible, plan to make this hike on a weekday. The crowds are pretty bad. Think lots of screaming kids, and rude groups with no hiking etiquette.

Stone Mountain is not a state park, it’s a privately owned amusement area.  It has restaurants, rides, and a fantastic laser on weekend nights (check the park’s web site for a schedule).

Stone Mountain

The park also contains a campground within the complex, as well as numerous other hiking trails, and a small lake.

Cost:

To access Stone Mountain Park, there is a $10 fee per vehicle. During some holidays it goes up even more.

Directions:

1. Take I-285 North from Atlanta.

2. Take Exit 39B on Hwy. 78 East.

3. Travel 7.7 Miles and take Exit 8.

4. Follow signs to the Stone Mountain Entrance.

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8 Responses to Stone Mountain – Walk Up Trail

  1. Outdoor Travel in the South | SouthernHiker on January 24, 2012 at 10:04 am

    [...] top of the trail, hikers will be treated to distant views of the Atlanta skyline. On a clear day, Stone Mountain can be seen in the distance just to the left of the Atlanta [...]

  2. John Jones on February 20, 2012 at 1:09 pm

    This is a really great hike that I make a few times a week. The park is in fact a state park run by a private company. The Confederate Hall at the base of the trail has a great museum with lots of information on the area and the mountain. You can stop in before or after your hike. It is worth the side trip. You can also follow the Cherokee Trail around the mountain, appx 8 miles, that intersects with the walk up trail. Most people on the trail do not have hiking etiquette but you have to remember they are doing this for fitness not to enjoy the hike. Its worth it any day of the week and nice to be around people that at least want to be outside.

  3. mco on June 4, 2012 at 10:45 am

    I noticed the carvings into the rocks after having hiked the mountain a few dozen times. I found at least half a dozen dated from the 1800s. Amazing! Was hoping someone would have documented and taken pictures of these carvings to post on the web but no such luck. This is the first site that I found that even mentioned the 100 plus year old carvings!

  4. [...] getting a panoramic view of nature close up. I took the side entrance in the park next to  the walk up trail in Stone Mountain.  I always carry my digital Nikon Coolpix S570 with me everywhere I go, so this morning was not [...]

  5. krystilized on September 30, 2013 at 8:58 am

    I took my kids and their 3 friends to Stone Mountain this past Saturday. They all wanted to take the hiking trail up, so I did it. I’m not extremely fit, but I run about 2 miles a week. I’m 34 and not overweight, but this mountain kicked my behind!!! I kept having to tell the kids to wait, which I could barely say over the heavy breathing. Some of the areas are so steep. At one point I thought my legs were about to give out. Towards the end, I had to take a break after every couple of minutes. OMG!!! I’m thinking about climbing it once a week now. I felt like an old lady…and all the kids kept laughing at me. :( I told them they won’t be laughing if I pass out and they don’t have a ride home. Start this climb at your own risk!!!

  6. TLC on October 4, 2013 at 11:05 pm

    You say it’s a moderate trail. Wow. It was so tough for me. I’ve got to get back in shape!

  7. sheilla on February 8, 2014 at 3:10 pm

    Omg So my sister-in,-law and brother keep telling to try the trail, but their so out breath Im scared ill get stuck and cant make it, but ive decided to give it a go just for the breathe taking views. See ya soon…..

  8. Brandi Autumn on April 8, 2014 at 9:35 pm

    This was a great workout….can’t wait to go again. I’ve incorporated this into my routine.

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