Panola Mountain Viewing Platform Professional Reviews and Guides
"This 1,500-acre park offers visitors an opportunity to explore the exposed rocks and fragile environment of 940-foothigh Panola Mountain. Once called Little Stone Mountain, Panola is a designated National Natural Landmark, as well as a laboratory for geological study.
A hike along the 0.75-mile Rock Outcrop and 1.25-mile Micro-watershed Trail offers an excellent introduction to the park and is open during park hours. An optional, guided summit hike is available on a scheduled basis; there is a fee and reservations are recommended."
--Ren and Helen Davis, Best Easy Day Hikes: Atlanta (Falcon Guides).
"The centerpiece of the park is the granite dome of Panola Mountain. The mountain rises to 940 feet of elevation, but that is only 260 feet above the South River, which flows along its northern edge. Of the several similar domes in the vicinity, Panola is the only one left undisturbed. Unique granite outcrops and endemic palnts and animals are associated with this particular habitat. The 1,635-acre facility borders a rapidly growing residential area and provides excellent educational outdoor activities for its neighbors. The park's nature center has excellent displays of local geology, plants, and wildlife, while park personnel offer frequent nature walks for children and adults."
--Donald Pfitzer, Hiking Georgia (Falcon Guides).
"Three trails totaling 4.9 miles offer interpretive walks through this unique habitat. The Rock Outcrop, Watershed, and Panola Mountain Trails provide information on the area’s geology, fauna, flora, and history. The Fitness and 3-D Target Trails also are in the park. Combining the 0.9-mile Watershed and 0.5-mile Rock Outcrop Trails creates a double-loop hike that takes you through the major habitat types in the park. The paths are best walked in a counterclockwise direction beginning with the Watershed Trail."
--Donald W. Pfitzer and Jimmy Jacobs, Hiking Georgia: Atlanta (Falcon Guides).
"To protect the fragile ecology of Panola Mountain, the park limits public access to certain areas in Panola Mountain State Park, including the summit, but park rangers frequently lead public hikes that allow you a close look at the plant life on the wide tracts of exposed granite. It certainly helps to have an informed guide with a trained eye point out the minute diamorpha that grows on the rocky slopes. The broad, open space at the summit has a great view of Atlanta, and you get to visit one of the mountain’s oldest inhabitants—a 250-year-old cedar tree. Your guide will also familiarize you with the plants and animals inhabiting the lower mountain forest. While the hike involves some moderate climbing, it’s not especially rigorous."
--Marcus Woolf, Afoot and Afield Atlanta: 108 Spectacular Outings in North-Central Georgia (Wilderness Press).
"Two interpretive loop trails take hikers through two very different environments. The first trail drops to a creek that is occasionally dry, while the second climbs one of Panola Mountain’s many outcrops."
--Randy & Pam Golden, 60 Hikes within 60 Miles: Atlanta (Menasha Ridge Press).
This is an excellent hike any time of the year, any day of the week. There is a little of everything for everyone: water, ruins, history, slight elevation gain, lots of fauna and most importantly, some pretty places to just stop walking and take a moment to enjoy one's surroundings.
When my husband and I were there most recently (1/2/11), the Yellow Trail was closed for maintenance.
Celebrate National Public Lands Day on Spetmebr 26th with free admission to George L. Smith State Park. You'll find many ways to show your support for Georgia State Parks' mission to preserve, protect, and provide access to public Green Space. You can either take advantage of volunteer opportunities that day such as trail inspection or litter pick-up, take advantage of a great day for a fall hike. Free Day in the Park is 9/26/09.
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