The Stone Mountain Walk-Up Trail is the only approved way to walk to the summit of Stone Mountain. The trail is about one mile (1.6 kilometers) in length and has an elevation gain of about 700 feet (210 meters). The incline is relatively consistent throughout the trail, with somewhat steeper areas near the top. The trail is marked with yellow blazes painted on the stone.
You can also access the summit via the Skyride. You can walk one way and ride the other, but the Skyride is based on the north side of the mountain while the Walk-Up Trail begins on the west side. It's about 1.3 miles or 2.1 kilometers to walk between the two on hiking trails or along the road.
The smooth granite surfaces of the trail can be slippery when wet and where covered with sand or pine needles. Be extremely careful because if you fall on the hard granite, it's going to hurt!
Pets are not allowed on the Walk-up Trail.
It takes about thirty minutes to walk to the top at a moderate and steady pace. Times in this guide are based on a thirty minute walk. If you push, you can make it in twenty minutes. It's great exercise! But it's much more enjoyable to take your time and observe all the interesting sights along the way.
Yellow path: Walk-up Trail
White path: Service road
Red pins: Emergency call boxes
Yellow pins: Parking
The base of the trail is near Confederate Hall at the west end of the mountain (33°48'39"N84°9'40.6"W). You can park at the Confederate Hall parking lot. At busy times, especially on weekends or holidays, the Confederate Hall lot can be full. In this case, you can park at the Walking Trails lot instead.
To start the trail, walk away from Confederate Hall, across the railroad tracks, and toward the mountain in an eastbound direction.
Stone Mountain was quarried for many years, and some of its earliest quarry areas can be seen right at the beginning of the Walk-up Trail. These quarries were fortunately not deep and imposing like the later quarries on the east end of the mountain. If you're interested in quarries, consider visiting the Quarry Exhibit during your visit to Stone Mountain. The quarry areas closest to the trail are marked on the map. About two minutes from the railroad tracks, you will actually climb right over a step that was made by quarrying.
Once you pass the step, look to your right and you will see the Flag Terrace, which was constructed by the United Daughters of the Confederacy, the same organization that originally sponsored the Confederate Memorial Carving.
Next, you will cross the service road for the first time. The service road snakes back and forth roughly parallel to the Walk-up Trail. Most of the road is gravel. It's primarily used for emergencies.
There are a number of emergency call boxes located along the trail. One of them is on the left side of the trail just past the road crossing. All of them are marked on the map with red pins.
Emergency call box
Elias Nour and his brother Tony carved their names in several places along the trail. Just about a minute past the road crossing, you will find one on the left side of the trail among some pine trees.
Elias Nour carved in stone
Just 25 meters (80 feet) past Elias Nour's signature, you will see some of the most stylish of the many old engravings to be found along the trail.
Just a few paces further up on the left side of the trail is an engraving dated 1816. It is difficult to authenticate the date.
At about seven minutes from the railroad tracks, you will see where the Cherokee Trail crosses the Walk-up Trail. The 4.6-mile (7.4-kilometer) Cherokee Trail goes around the mountain and offers great scenery and history. On your way up or down the Walk-Up Trail is a great time to hike the Cherokee Trail. It takes two hours or so.
Cherokee Trail along the Walk-up Trail
Just past the Cherokee Trail crossing, there are two phone poles where the unfortunately-located phone and power lines to the summit cross the Walk-Up Trail. Over the years, people have made a point of sticking chewing gum to these poles, and they are now completely covered. Don't ask why.
For the next ten minutes or so, the trail proceeds through the woods and over many interesting stone formations. Most of the stones along the trail have been worn smooth by people walking this same path for hundreds of years.
The trail is again crossed by the service road, and past that you will climb the only man-made steps along the trail. At the top of these steps is a rest area including a shelter and some picnic tables. This is a good place to rest, drink some water, and maybe have a snack. There are often interesting exhibits inside the shelter, so look up and see what's there.
Halfway hut (33°48'29.18"N 84°9'2.68"W)
Leaving the rest area, the trail continues through trees for a short distance before coming out into an open area. This is the beginning of the steepest areas of the trail. The older Walk-up Trail followed an ancient Indian trail which veers off to the left of the current trail's path. This trail is marked with a tablet that was set into the stone in 1922.
Old Indian Trail marker
Soon you will reach the steepest point of the trail, a span of about 140 feet (43 meters) which has two hand rails. This slope is often slippery, so even if you don't need the rails to pull yourself up, it's a good idea to hold one of them in case you slip. Use the rail on the right-hand side so that people walking down can use the other one.
To the left of the rails, the old Indian trail re-joins the main trail. It passes between two large stones, which are covered in chewing gum just like the poles further down the trail. I'm sure this was not done by Indians in ancient times.
Right at the top of the railings you will see an engraving that appears to be dated 1816. It was actually carved in 1916.
Cedonia & Brice Browder engraving
Shortly past the end of the railings, the old Indian trail splits off to the left of the trail again and does not re-join the main trail. It does represent an opportunity to go down the mountain using a different trail than coming up for a short distance.
The trail becomes less steep for a few minutes, and then steepens once again for the last push to the top.
At the top of the last steep section, the mountain becomes nearly level. On your right there is a fence that protects a large area near the summit. Some of the very rare plants that can be found on Stone Mountain are protected by this fence. A sign illustrates poolsprite and quillwort.
The top of Stone Mountain is gently rounded. There is no one obvious summit. In fact, there are three summit markers, and all three of them have roughly the same elevation of about 1683 feet (513 meters).