One of the closest State Parks for Atlanta city dwellers is Panola Mountain State Park. For those who reside up in the northern suburbs, Panola is a little further away, but for Atlantans inside the perimeter and in south suburbs this might be one of the best ways to hit the trails without going very far.
Panola is located southeast of the perimeter and is part of the Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area. The park is full of activities including hiking, biking, boating, archery, and other lake activities. Unlike most state parks, Panola almost feels as if it is a city park with the vast amount of open area filled with picnic tables, family reunions, and children on playgrounds. The two main attractions of the park, other than the open space to hang out in, was the lake and Panola Mountain.
Panola Mountain is a granite outcrop that visitors can hike up to with incredible views of the land and even sights of Stone Mountain. Thus far, the view from Panola Mountain has been one of the most unique places we have visited in Atlanta. The granite outcrop looks as if it doesn’t belong entirely, and you are somewhere out west instead-making for a great hiking trail. The trail up to Panola is a fairly easy hike. If you just want to see the outcrop there is a shortcut through the middle of the trail that takes only a few minutes and will lead you right to the impressive views. There are several different trails you can go on, both paved and unpaved, so depending on what you want to get out of your visit, Panola offers a wide variety. The majority of the park trails appear to be dedicated to bikers and joggers, making it not the most ideal place for our interests, but we still had a good time exploring. Overall, Panola is probably our least favorite Georgia State Park thus far that we have visited; however, it is great for a short little outing to venture outside the hustle and bustle of Atlanta.