One of Atlanta’s most famous and most popular attractions is Stone Mountain, just east of the city. At 3200 acres, the park encompasses a large green area full of trees and small lakes, making for a peaceful getaway from the chaos all around. The park’s centerpiece, however, is the massive granite outcrop that one can see from miles away. On one side of the granite is the Confederate Memorial Carving. Known to some as the Mount Rushmore of the South, the carving features depictions of Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson. Whatever your feelings on this controversial topic, the carving is impressive-it is larger than Mount Rushmore.
Unlike Mount Rushmore, which takes up a large portion of the granite outcrop on which it’s carved, the Confederate Memorial takes up only a small part of Stone Mountain. In fact, one of the most popular activities at Stone Mountain is either hiking up Stone Mountain or taking the cable car to the top. We decided to hike up the mountain, and it was a fun, rewarding hike. Hikers walk on the granite of the mountain, which makes for an interesting hike, although hikers should be careful-the granite can be very slick. The one mile hike up is a gradual, but moderate incline with a few steep inclines or steps up. However, there are plenty of places to take a break if you need to, plus, you’ll want to take breaks in order to take in the great vistas of the Atlanta skyline and the surrounding country. The top of the mountain is a large, flat area around which visitors can walk. There is a small cafe at the top if you want a snack or need a restroom. We went on a Saturday afternoon, and there were plenty of people around. If you want solitude, you might want to check out some of the other trails around the park.
Part of Stone Mountain’s popularity arises from the fact that the park has plenty of other things to do. There are plenty of trails around the park if walking up Stone Mountain isn’t your cup of tea. There is a small village with cafes and gift shops, and there is a lasershow during the evenings. During the fall, the park has a pumpkin festival, and during the winter, the park has a snowy winter fun area. The park also hosts several festivals throughout the year, including a Scottish Highland Games and a Native American Powwow.
The entrance fee at Stone Mountain is a bit steep, but there is an annual pass available for those who are frequent visitors. While there are plenty of other great natural areas around Atlanta, Stone Mountain is unique in that it is so close to the city. There are beautiful forests and lakes, but also spectacular views from the top of the mountain. It is well worth a visit.