Arabia Mountain – which is what I’ve always heard it called – is actually the Davidson-Arabia Mountain Nature Preserve in DeKalb County, Georgia. The preserve is located on Klondike Road approximately 2 miles south of Lithonia. An excellent trail - Arabia Mountain Nature Preserve - map may be downloaded from the Arabia Mountain Heritage Area website.
This map shows the approximate borders and trails in the nature preserve. Kiosks and parking are located at the north and south entrances.
We decided to walk the Bradley Mountain Trail which is one of two trails in the preserve that are marked with stone cairns. This trail is featured in Hugh and Carol Nourse's Favorite Wildflower Walks in Georgia. The map shows the route we took. We didn't climb straight up the rock following the cairns. We contoured to the right a little to view the dish gardens on the side of the rock.
We spotted a patch of lilies to the left as we started out on the trail. They are either Dogtooth Violets (Erythronium americanum) or Dimpled Troutlilies (Erythronium umbilicatum). They had bloomed already so we’ll have to wait until next year to identify them. The trail emerges onto the rock which is ‘littered’ with dish gardens in depressions in the rock.
This garden has moss in the foreground, Oneflower stitchwort (Minuartia uniflora) on the left margin and Hairy Groundsel (Packera tomentosa) in the grass in the center.
Another dish garden with some Hairy Goundsel in the center and a mixture of Onefllower Stitchwort and Elf Opine (Diamorpha smallii) along the margin.
This series of gardens shows Elf Opine and Onefllower Stitchwort, which can survive and grow in less soil, in the shallow areas in the foreground compared with Hairy Goundsel growing in the deeper soil in the depression in the background together with more luxuriant patches of Onefllower Stitchwort around the margin.
The trail marked with stone cairns rises gently across the rock bordered by Loblolly Pine (Pinus taeda) woods. The area was quarried at one time. The rock was removed in fairly shallow layers ranging from about 1 to four feet in depth. The scars from one of these areas is visible across the center of this photo.
Yellow Jessamine (Gelsemium sempervirens) is blooming at the moment. Several trees were covered by the vines.
A young Loblolly Pine and yuccas have taken root in the middle of the rock. Elf Orpine is growing in very shallow sand in the foreground. A patch of Onefllower Stitchwort is thriving in the deeper soil by the yuccas.
We found tadpoles – almost certainly Southeastern (Upland) Chorus (Pseudacris feriarum) – swimming in a shallow pool by the trail. Fortunately we’ve had rain on a weekly basis recently. Hopefully, these little guys will metamorphose before it gets too hot and the pools dry up.
Looking back along the trail.
We saw quite a number of Zebra Swallowtail (Euryotides marcellus) butterflies which were constantly in flight. We saw one settle on some Oldfield Toadflax (Nuttallanthus canadensis) but it flew off before we could photograph it. This Juvenal’s Duskywing (Erynnis juvenalis) was working a patch of Hairy Groundsel.
The ‘level’ section of trail passes through some pines into the open to climb directly up the rock to the summit of Bradley Peak.
(To be continued…)
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Resources: - Hugh and Carol Nourse. Favorite Wildflower Walks in Georgia. University of Georgia Press, Athens, Georgia
- Arabia Mountain Heritage Area (Download Map)