Cheré Dastugue Coen
Get rockin’ at Georgia’s 10th Monadnock Madness
It’s one of those words I must practice out loud. Like constantly. Or I lose it.
Try saying that 10 times fast.
The name refers to a massive granite outcrop, like the ones found rising over the horizon in the Atlanta area of Georgia. There’s Stone Mountain with its controversial Confederate sculpture, Panola and Arabia with its rare diamorpha plants, and Kennesaw Mountain, part of the Kennesaw Mountain Battlefield National Park.
The natural uniqueness of these mountains is why the state offers Monadnock Madness during March. This 10th annual event begins March 1, 2022, celebrating not only the mountains but the natural wonders that live on them, such as rare diamorpha, vibrant vernal pools and landscapes unique to the American Southeast.
For instance, Panola Mountain is a 100-acre granite outcrop located inside a state park. It’s similar to the larger and more popular Stone Mountain, although Stone Mountain has been extensively quarried and Panola has not (Stone Mountain sported lovely granite that’s now found all over the United States). Panola’s lack of visitor traffic allows park rangers to maintain its pristine nature. Visitors may only scale the mountain on ranger-led hikes, to avoid destroying its rare ecosystem.
On a recent trip, we followed a ranger to Panola’s pinnacle, sidestepping rare plants and vernal pools and spotting wildlife scat (that’s poop for non-nature lovers). We were told that the tiny diamorpha plants turn red in late fall and winter with delicate white blooms in spring. When we reached the top of Panola, we had a magnificent view of the Atlanta skyline.
Arabia and Panola are two mountains, one a state park, within the Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area, one of only three National Heritage Areas in the state. Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area is a partnership among the state of Georgia, DeKalb, Henry and Rockdale counties, the Monastery of the Holy Spirit, and numerous communities and public-private partners.
Don’t take it for granite!
Adapted for COVID-19 safety, Monadnock Madness will offer socially distanced nature photography and yoga workshops, as well as a Triple Hike Challenge, allowing people to visit each greenspace on their own time and complete the hiking challenge at their own pace. Ticket sales are now open for the photography and yoga events, and Triple Hike Challenge will formally begin on March 1.
For the Triple Hike Challenge, participants visit Arabia, Panola and Kennesaw Mountains on their own, taking a photo (preferably a selfie) on the trails.
Then, once they are done hiking, hikers upload the images to an online passport located at monadnockmadness.com (passport will go live on March 1). When they have sent in the passport, they earn a prize.
Naturally, because of the delicate nature of the granite outcrops and their plants, hikers should take only pictures, avoid stepping in vegetation, dispose of waste properly and respect the animal and plant life that thrives in these oases of nature.
“Monadnock Madness has been a wonderful and vibrant part of programming in these parks across metro Atlanta,” said Revonda Cosby, executive director of the Arabia Mountain Heritage Area Alliance, the nonprofit management entity of the Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area. “Over the past 10 years, people have built connections, realized the similarities between these parks, and discovered a world of wonder right in Atlanta’s backyard.”
Visitors may also sign up for guided hikes and other events at the three parks. For a full list of available events, visit monadnockmadness.com.
If you go
Monadnock Madness highlights for this year include the following activities which require pre-registration:
Photography Workshops – March 12 and 20, 2022; tickets $15. Sign up here.
Yoga & Mindfulness Workshops – March 13 and 27, 2022; tickets $25. Sign up here.
Photos from previous years’ Monadnock Madness are also available to view here.
This story was written with the help of a press release.
About Arabia Alliance
The Arabia Mountain Heritage Area Alliance is dedicated to protecting, connecting and sharing the powerful history, rich culture and engaging landscapes of the Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area (AMNHA) for the benefit and enjoyment of all. The staff and volunteer board of the Arabia Alliance work with partners across the AMNHA to ensure that everyone can benefit from the cultural and natural resources of the National Heritage Area. For more information, visit www.arabiaalliance.org.