Sint Holo has been chosen as a finalist for Best Screenplay at the Jakarta Independent Film Festival.
The Summer 2020 issue of Willows Wept Review, edited by Troy Urquhart and featuring a cover image by Pete Follansbees, is a free download at: https://www.magcloud.com/browse/issue/1801901
What Georgia’s Stone Mountain might look like if the 1972 Confederate carvings were removed.
Below is a list of Arabia Mountain PATH trailheads along the three main trails (South River Trail, Arabia Mountain Trail, and Rockdale River Trail). The informal rankings are intended specifically for those who might wish to avoid shared concrete bicycle-pedestrian pathways when possible, and/or those who prefer to explore on their own.
***UPDATE 6/15/20: Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, some changes have been made to this list since it was first posted in December. Parking at the AWARE Wildlife Center has become a problem because of the popularity of the preserve during the pandemic, and even if one is lucky enough to find a spot, it’s not uncommon to get blocked in. The Mountain Loop Trail that begins near the Nature Center lot is the best way to begin a trek to both mountains.***
1. Arabia Mountain Nature Center Trailhead/North Parking Lot—to the Forest Trail (Orange, leading to Arabia Lake), Mile Rock Trail (Cairns), and Mary Wade Spur. Parking includes an overflow lot, and most trails are easy-access and family-friendly. But this site can also be a hub for beginning longer treks, particularly to the mountains via the unmarked Mountain Loop Trail (see # 4), to the Evans Mill trails (this requires walking along the bike-pedestrian path) or even to the Vaughters’ Farm trails (this requires walking on a shared driveway to cut across Rockland Road at the bridge).
2. Evans Mill Trailhead—to Cascade Trail and Wilburn Farm Trail (both Orange). The hiking trail is readily accessible, leading straight from the parking lot to the South River. While there is little to see of the mill ruins, the river shoals are scenic and popular with waders and sunbathers in summer. Along the combined Cascade-Wilburn trail route are wooded hills, farmland, outcrop, a pond, and the striking ruins of the barn and farmhouse. It is not difficult to extend the walk by connecting via the Boomerang Trail (Red) to the Laurel Creek Trail (White) just down the bike path. The only negative is that the noise from a nearby police firing range can be constant on some weekday afternoons.
3. Vaughters’ Farm Trailhead—to Pasture Loop Trail and Woodland Trail (Orange, then Pink). Most visitors cross the road to the barn, where the Loop Trail begins, and are content to circle the pasture. And this may be the best short trail for walking a dog. But extended hikes are also possible if one picks up the Woodland Trail on the far side of the Loop. The Woodland Trail and House Ruin Spur offer tree-covered hills, although both become rocky in places, and both (if the Woodland Trail is followed all the way around the pond) end up in someone’s back yard. But if you can find your way to them, the forest, outcrop, brook, and pond are among the most pristine in the area.
4. Arabia Mountain Trailhead/South Parking Lot/AWARE Wildlife Center—to Mountain Top Trail (Cairns), Mountain Loop Trail (unmarked), and the Lake Trail (Blue). This trailhead is closest to the two main attractions, Bradley and Arabia Mountains, and opens straight onto the outcrop, where there are unmarked trails and surprises. But the South Parking Lot is undersized and can present hazards when merging into Klondike Road traffic or when attempting to park on the shoulder on busy weekends. The alternative is to take the boardwalk from the Nature Center to the South Parking Lot, or to cut across Klondike near the start of the Mile Rock Trail to the unmarked Mountain Loop Trail that begins on the other side of the blue swinging gate.
5. Parker House Trailhead/Panola Mountain State Park (East)—to Alexander Lake, Flat Bridge Trail, and the Power of Flight Area. This is a State Park entrance, so the $5 parking fee applies. It has recently gone unused while the area surrounding Alexander Lake was closed for construction and the Upper Lake was drained. It is now possible to walk from the parking lot to a dirt trail that circles Lower Alexander Lake (which is actually the north half), crosses over the unmarked Flat Bridge Trail (leading to the South River), passes Scout Lake (a small pond) and then merges into the Power of Flight Area, which is an open grassland with bird and butterfly trails. Technically, this is a DNR Restricted area, so it is best to check in with the rangers first. But the Nature Center is on the far end of the park, so if you entered at Parker House, they are forgiving.
6. Panola Mountain Park Nature Center Trailhead—to Rock Outcrop and Watershed Trails. Most trails are short loops and suitable for kids. What makes this site worth the $5 parking fee is the striking view of Stone Mountain from the Rock Outcrop Trail observation deck. To the right is Panola Mountain, accessible by guided tour only. If you don’t mind walking around the park on the bike-pedestrian path and are up for a more challenging hike, you can check in with a ranger at the Nature Center to get a one-day permit (free) for the Boulder Trail, which begins near a DNR-Restricted sign near the Power of Flight area. (If you’ve reached the South River Bridge, you’ve gone too far.)
7. DeCastro Trailhead/Daniels Bridge Road—to Alexander Lake, South River beach. This tiny trailhead can be easy to overshoot. Walking north from Daniels Bridge will take you over the Serpentine Bridge and past a boulder ridge to Alexander Lake in Panola Park, if the trade-off of walking a couple miles to save the $5 state parking fee at Parker House is worth it to you. In June-July, this pathway is lined with blackberries. Walking south from Daniels Bridge to Rockdale Park past private fences and Beware of Dog signs is sort of pointless, but in summer, this trailhead becomes the local access point for wading in the South River. (The beach path begins at the telephone poles.) The water quality is generally good as shoals upstream provide a natural filter. Across the river is a hiking trail accessible from the Everett Property at the bridge on Klondike. Everett will become the second landing (after Panola Shoals) for the Georgia Water Trails project, which is a work-in-progress. The gate at this site is rarely left open, so it mostly gets used for fishing.
8. South Rockdale Community Park Trailhead—to Ken Miller Loop—South River. This is a popular destination for mountain bikers due to the 5.5 miles of trails recently completed in June 2019 (beginner/ intermediate/ difficult) and also for equestrian riders. Hikers start off on concrete, but it is not far to the Ken Miller Loop, which winds and connects back to the path just before the Suspension Bridge and South River. Challenging hikes are possible along the river, where an Eagle Scout trail built in 1999 is broken, but still serviceable, and leads to secluded spots along the water’s edge. Due to overgrowth, it can become difficult to access this narrow trail in spring and summer.
9. Polebridge Creek/Murphey Candler School Trailheads—to Laurel Creek (White) Trail. The Polebridge Trailhead requires a good deal of walking on concrete to get to the hiking trail, and the Horace King Commemorative Bridge and Farming Terraces along the way strike many as underwhelming (the latter can’t be seen from the trail). The wetland area also runs dry. But the Laurel Creek Trail is picturesque and underused, and it also connects to the Evans Mill trails (see #2). The Murphey Candler Trailhead provides closer access to Laurel Creek. The hiking trail connects with the bike-pedestrian path on the right and is only a few minutes away from the parking lot. It is normally open only on weekends or when the school is not in session. During the COVID-19 pandemic, this trailhead has become much more popular, open 7 days/week and with unlimited parking, if you don’t mind walking around the school building to the back.
10. Panola Shoals/MLK School Trailheads—to Lyon’s Farm, South River Bridge. There is a short stretch of boardwalk by the South River on the MLK School side of Snapfinger Road, but otherwise, this is a long stroll on a shared bike path, along a neighborhood route that gets littered. But a variety of wild species grow just off the pathway, and deer are common in fall. The pathway winds past several picturesque sites—starting off at Panola Shoals, on to the best-anywhere view of Panola Mountain (from a bench slightly uphill at Lyon Farm), over the South River Bridge, and ultimately, through the north entrance to Panola State Park. Because all these sights are spaced a couple of miles apart, they will pass by at a better pace for someone on a bike.
11. Lorraine Park/Monastery of the Holy Spirit Trailheads. These two trailheads may be linked because they primarily lead to each other. It is a long walk on a shared bike-pedestrian path to the monastery, but has the feeling of a pilgrimage if you begin at Lorraine (2.9 mi) or Rockland (3.8 mi.). The best time to do this is in late May, when the magnolias are in bloom to greet your arrival. And the Monastery of the Holy Spirit is an attraction all its own, with its cloister and abbey church, bookstore and bonsai greenhouse. Lorraine Park offers a high-angle view of the South River that serves as a reminder it will need a major clean-up before becoming the third and last landing on the South River Water Trail (see #6). On the other hand, it may have the best-maintained restrooms on the trail.
12. Historic Lithonia/Stonecrest Mall Trailheads/Stonecrest Library Spur. This is truly more of a widened city sidewalk than a pathway, but I was surprised to find it deserted on a Sunday (except around the entrance to the mall). There are fleeting glimpses of nature along the way, although the I-20 underpass is certainly the least lovely part of the PATH network. At the Lithonia end, the break onto Johnson Street requires circling a few blocks to get to the Women’s Club, so it’s debatable where the Arabia Mountain Trail technically begins. But because that detour can loop left-right through historic downtown Lithonia, the overall trade-off is not bad.