|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|
|About these ratings|
Hiking trails in DeKalb County, GA
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, on the Stone Mountain Loop Trail|
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.
Your guide to hiking and walking trails in the state of Georgia