These are the three words that describe the undeniable charm Stone Mountain possesses. Founded as a state park in 1958, Stone Mountain resides next to the buzzing and noisy highway 78, and acts as a quiet sanctuary away from the chaos of civilization. My adventure started at the entrance where I had the option of paying for a daily pass or using a seasonal pass for parking. Being a person who regularly comes to Stone Mountain, I had a seasonal pass and was able to breeze through the entrance. Immediately, I was surrounded on all sides by the brown of the trees, the green grass and the dull and murky blue lakes. As you dwell farther into the park, signs point in multiple directions, directing people to the locations of exhibits and attractions.
The first location I entered was the strategically placed Crossroads. The Crossroads is placed in a location that is likely to be passed, regardless of where you wish to go in the park and is surrounded by signs and advertisements directing people into it. This is because the Crossroads is the transportation hub of Stone Mountain and serves as a staring point for newcomers and tourists. Almost all tickets for attractions must be bought in the Crossroads, and it is also where most of the children oriented activities are located. In addition to this, the Memorial Hall Museum sits right next to the Crossroads and is oriented for a older audience. Coincidence? I do not think so.
However, this is the only place in the park that is heavily influenced by man and marketing. The rest of the park has little man made interference, other than the roads and paths that were created for easy accessibility throughout the park. These parts of the park, like the Grist Mill, Carillon and the entrance to the famous walk-up trail were filled with people, ranging from those who are athletically oriented to those who just wish to escape from the city. As I explored these areas, which were easily accessible, I was filled with a sense of tranquility and felt myself forget about all the things that caused me stress.
Despite knowing that most of the park was technically man made, and that the artifacts were not original to the park did not bother me at all.
From the sound of the Grist Mill, to the music playing at the Carillon, I felt like I was isolated from the noise and crowds that plague the outside world and could actually focus on my thoughts. I believe this is the reason why many people come to Stone Mountain; to escape the urban trap of the city and become engulfed in the loving arms of nature.
This is the century old Covered Bridge that leads to Indian Island, which is located just below the Grist Mill. Like most of the other exhibits at Stone Mountain, this was not original to the park. The Covered Bridge was brought from Athens, Georgia in 1969. The bridge is very old and squeaky when its driven over, almost as if its alive and breathing.
This video shows the beautiful Carillon at Stone Mountain. I arrived during the daily concert that is performed by Mabel Sharp, and has been for over 30 years now. However, the day that I arrived, it was playing the recording since live performances only take place over the weekends. The Carillon, just like the Grist Mill, was not originally built at Stone Mountain. The Carillon was donated by Coca-Cola after it was shown in the 1964 World’s Fair.
This is the entrance to the Walk-up Trail at Stone Mountain. From this point to the top, the trail length is 1.1 miles and is a combination of steep and gentle slopes. Pets are not allowed to go on the walk-up trail and the trail itself is surrounded in warning signs to not stray off the designated trail. Once a higher elevation is reached, the trail becomes surrounded in fencing to prevent people from going on the dangerously steep parts of the trail.
I took a picture of this sign because it depicts how “set” things are at Stone Mountain. Trails are very neatly cut out and signs surround them warning the users of the dangers and (sometimes) fees they may receive for going off the trail. In a way, when you think about it, is all of the park really open to the general public? Or are we limited to certain areas within the park and being excluded from what lies off the trails?
Welcome to the Grist Mill. This spot serves as a place for people to come and host cook outs, let their children play in the water before the mill and lake and take pictures. The Grist Mill itself was not built in Stone Mountain, but was moved from its original spot in Ellijay, Georgia. Access is strictly forbidden into the mill and it is padlocked shut.
This is the Memorial Hall museum at Stone Mountain. The inside of the museum contains exhibits about the geology and ecology of Stone Mountain, the civil war and its impact in Georgia and the background of the men who carved the Confederate Memorial, which is the largest relief carving in the world. In addition to the artifacts, the Civil War exhibit presents a 25 minute documentary, “The Battle for Georgia – a History of the Civil War in Georgia” and another 11 minute feature film about the men who carved the Confederate Memorial called “The Men Who Carved the Mountain”.
Welcome to the Crossroads! This area in Stone mountain is built to resemble a small town and is where tickets are sold for the theme park attractions within the Crossroads. The Crossroads also provides options for food and is the center point for most of the transportation systems that are offered at Stone Mountain.