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Apr 21

Arabia National Heritage Area Hike

Join members of the Tennessee Valley Chapter of Wild Ones and hike leader, Stephan Eselgroth, MD, for a spring wildflower hike at the Arabia National Heritage Area, in Stonecrest, Georgia.

Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area
4158 Klondike Rd., Stonecrest, GA 30038
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Apr 21, 2024 10:00am - Apr 21, 2024 02:00pm

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Hike Description:

Along the southeast margins of Atlanta lie several massive granite outcrops. Called monadnocks, the largest of them include Stone, Panola and Arabia mountains. Geologically, these are residual plumes of magma called plutons, which have resisted erosion. We will visit the oldest, Arabia, that formed 400 million years ago.  It offers us viewing of unique habitats, with several endemic native plants. 

In 1972, the Davidson family donated 500+ acres of Arabia Mountain and surrounding lands to DeKalb County for a nature preserve. Through further acquisitions, this now includes 2,550 acres, with a trail system along several granite outcrops and two lakes. 

There are two endangered plant species and many endemic species found only on rock outcrops.  A prime opportunity at Arabia is the spring bloom of extensive colonies of the beautiful diamorpha, or elf orpine, which thrives in the shallow solution pits or edge of pools characteristic of weathered granite. While nearby “pristine” Panola mountain remains undisturbed due to past unsuitability for quarrying, that monadnock has since become significantly wooded.  However, the Arabia monadnock underwent significant quarrying activities and remained mostly open and free from regrowth of shrub and canopy vegetation. This favors the diamorpha, wooly ragwort, hairy stem spiderwort, pool sprite, Georgia oak and other disturbance dependent species.

The trail winds around the lake, and up the massive granite formation. There are alternating easy to moderate sections, with savanna, lakeside, smooth rock slopes and 360 degree views. Unique features include solution pits, pools and rock formations.  We plan to also check out even higher densities of diamorpha at the main quarry and frogpond behind the nature center.  

Several wildflowers are established here. We will see large numbers of diamorpha (Sedum smallii) and wooly ragwort (Packera dubia) in bloom. Other species blooming include Ohio and hairy stem spiderworts (Tradescantia ohiensis and T. hirsuticaulis), pool sprite (Gratiola amphiantha) – G2 (US), S2/V (GA), S1/CR (AL & SC), Piedmont Sandwort (Mononeuria uniflora), Swollen Bladderwort (Utricularia inflata), Zigzag Bladderwort (Utricularia subulata), Wood-Candle (Schoenolirion croceum), Coral Honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens), Blue Toadflax (Nuttallanthus canadensis), Sparkleberry (Vaccinium arboreum), Virginia Snakeroot (Aristolochia serpentaria), Jack in the pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum), White Fringetree (Chionanthus virginicus), Flatrock Phacelia (Phacelia maculata), Flatrock Pimpernel (Lindernia monticola), Narrow-leaved Sundrops (Oenothera fruticosa), Little River Canyon Onion – EN/G2 (US), S2 (GA & AL) (Allium speculae) and Striped Garlic (Allium cuthbertii) – S2 (SC), S3 (GA & AL), woodland blue phlox (Phlox divaricata), Georgia Oak (Quercus georgiana) – G3 (US), S3 (GA), S2/V (AL), S1/CR (NC & SC). Several species not in bloom include Pineweed (Hypericum gentianoides), Southeastern Pricklypear (Opuntia mesacantha), Laurel-leaf Greenbrier (Smilax laurifolia), Devil's Walkingstick (Aralia spinosa), Round-leaved Fameflower (Phemeranthus teretifolius), Georgia Calamint (Clinopodium carolinianum), Dimpled Trout Lily (Erythronium umbilicatum), Helmet Skullcap (Scutellaria integrifolia), Porter's Sunflower (Helianthus porteri), and Michaux's Croton (Croton michauxii).

Hike Leader: Stephan Eselgroth, MD. Dr. Eselgroth has over 20 years of natural and sustainable native habitat gardening experience, RainSmart Yard and NWF certifications at his home, and is an active volunteer and hikes manager for the Tennessee Valley Chapter of Wild Ones.

Rating:  Easy to moderate for a short elevation gain/loss and some uneven terrain.

Distance: 3 miles at Arabia Mountain top loop, and 1 mile at quarry.

Duration: Approximately 4 hours for exploration, photography and discussion.

As time allows, we will stop at the Georgia State University/Perimeter College’s species rich native garden. It is nearby along the return route home and has hundreds of examples of the 4,000 species of native plants in the southeast. If interested, about 45 minutes out of the way is also the Nearly Native Nursery, which holds many interesting and hard to locate native species for sale.

General waiver. Bring plenty of water, insect repellent, sunscreen, parasol/umbrella +/- poncho depending on the weather, appropriate sturdy boots for mostly smooth rocky surfaces, some looser soil or gravel trails. Hiking poles/stick as needed. Bring snacks and lunch. No pets at any of our Wild Ones hikes, please.