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Duluth Massage


Stone Mountain Loop
Georgia Trails

Trail Length: 5.5 miles Type of trail: Loop
County: DeKalb County, GA Our rating: E
Features: visitors center, scenic, picnicking, lake, family, bathrooms, 60hikes Your rating:
Usage: Medium Added on: December 28, 2004
Last hiked: November 22, 2004 Updated on: December 01, 2010
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Additional Trails
Hiking trails in DeKalb County, GA

Directions
Directions to Stone Mountain Loop

Carving in Stone Mountain Park
This easy loop trail circles Stone Mountain, taking visitors past most of the major attractions. Only the Antebellum Plantation is significantly off the loop trail, but it is connected courtesy of a side trail to the attraction. The Stone Mountain Loop Trail is known by a variety of names, including the Cherokee Trail and the Stone Mountain National Recreation Trail. It was frequently used in the locally filmed TV series In the Heat of Night when the show called for shots in the forest or near a lake.

Pam and I have logged more hours and more miles on this loop trail than any other in the state. Its proximity to Atlanta and availability during the winter months has made this a "fallback" trail on many an occasion. In spite of our frequent use and a charge to enter Stone Mountain Park, it is still one of our favorites. We normally begin the hike from Confederate Hall, walking in a counter-clockwise direction.

Following the sidewalk the trail passes under a Stone Mountain Railroad trestle then turns left, entering the forest for the first time. The trail bears to the right and joins the Nature Trail Loop, which carries hikers to the nature garden. Here, interpreted exhibits guide visitors in identifying trees and shrubs native to the state of Georgia. Exit the garden in the vicinity of some mulberry trees on the white-blazed trail. Shortly after the nature garden is the remains of an old homestead, most notably the chimney of an old house. Note the roof line embedded in the chimney.

As the trail meanders between a roadway and railroad tracks it passes a playground across the road on the right. After the playground the footpath turns right and climbs a set of railroad tie steps, then crosses the road on a marked crosswalk. The trail skirts the playground on the left then crossing between two lakes (Venable Lake on the left, Howell Lake on the right) on a dam. After climbing over the dam the trail turns left, passing additional parking and crossing a paved road.

On the back side of Venable Lake the trail has repeated scenic views of the mountain. Near the west end the lake calms, making for some incredible photographs, especially in early to mid-November during leaf change. The red maple and white oak that surround the lake nicely accentuate the stark grayish-white granite of the mountain. At the end of Venable Lake the trail turns left, crossing another dam, then right to run near the shoreline of the much larger Stone Mountain Lake.

Evidence of Archaic, Woodland, Moundbuilder and Creek Nation village sites have been found in this area, one of the few places in Georgia where evidence of these distinct cultures are found in a relatively small distance. Now rocky, Stone Mountain Loop is easy to moderate in this section. The trail typically rises around an obstacle, returning to the lakeshore afterward. Two major attractions lay directly ahead.

Hearts of stone, Stone Mountain Loop Trail
Hearts of Stone, on the Stone Mountain Loop Trail
First is the Stone Mountain Covered Bridge. Originally located in Clarke County, Georgia, the bridge spanned the Oconee River at College Ave. in Athens. In 1965, when the Georgia DOT decided to replace the bridge with a modern structure, Stone Mountain purchase the covered bridge for dollar, moving it to its present site at a cost of about $18,000. When the bridge was rebuilt on the site, the span was shortened to its present 151 feet. Between the covered bridge and the grist mill the trail becomes a stone walkway inches above the level of the adjacent lake. Watch the path for lover's hearts.

Next is the historic grist mill, also moved to Stone Mountain in 1965. Unlike the bridge, the mill was relocated from Ellijay, Georgia, in the north Georgia mountains. From the mill the trail follows a granite sluice (what else?) passing by a spring house on the left.

The footpath crosses Robert E. Lee Boulevard and the railroad tracks to run between the tracks and the mountain. Just before Memorial Plaza the trail again crosses the railroad tracks, passing under the Skylift and entering the plaza for the best view of the massive granite carving commemorating the Confederacy. Robert E. Lee, Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson and Jefferson Davis represent the largest stone carving in the world. Created between 1916 and 1972 the sculpture began as the dream of Idaho-born sculptor Gutzon Borglum. Augustus Lukeman took over after conflicts forced Borglum to leave the state in 1925. Lukeman blasted Borglum's work from the face of the mountain and started over.

In 1928, Lukeman's job came to an end because the Stone Mountain Association did not complete the carving in the 12 years allotted. In 1958 a nearly 20 year crusade turned the project over to the state of Georgia, which immediately set out to hire a sculptor and finish the carving. Walker Hancock took the reins and finished the project in 1972 with an ex-marine named Roy Faulkner handling most of the actual work. On the far side of Memorial Plaza the trail crosses the railroad tracks at a signaled intersection, then winds its way through the woods to a picnic area opposite from the train depot.

Follow the Stone Mountain Loop until it bears to the left and begins a rapid climb up Stone Mountain. Dogs are not allowed on this section, so we continue straight on the orange connector trail that follows the track back to Confederate Hall. Once at the hall the path ends at some rest rooms. Confederate Hall parking is directly in front of you.

On weekends the parking lot at Confederate Hall is frequently full. There is additional trail parking on the road to Confederate Hall near the Antique Auto museum and near the nature center.

Map of the Stone Mountain Loop

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