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Weird landscape lures travelers to Georgia

Davidson Arabia Nature Preserve is north of Atlanta

POSTED: November 26, 2013 1:00 a.m.

Traveling to Mars is unnecessary for an out-of-this-world experience. Just drive south to Arabia Mountain like I did.

The Davidson Arabia Nature Preserve in Lithonia is partially in a former granite quarry and 30 minutes away from downtown Atlanta.

Best of all, unlike most of Atlanta, parking is free.

The preserve has 8 miles of trails for biking or hiking, two lakes and a dense valley forest, which can be viewed from the peak or from within. It hosts a vast array of unique wildlife.

I saw two herd of deer and many birds during my hike.

Additionally, a horsefly of unusual size and color attached itself to my poor hiking companion and dog, Star. Eventually through much coaxing, namely trying to kill it by swatting it like a mad woman, it left.

Pools of water dotting the landscape boast rare species of lichen as well as flora and fauna. The valley forest below explodes with plant life.

What I deemed fairy towers, also known as cairns, made from cemented rock mark the trail.

Due to the fragile, slow-growing nature of some of the plants, especially the lichens, it is best not to stray too far from the path.

Beauty is not a word I would use to describe this place. It’s just so different, strange and large that one must visit it to understand the scope of weird.

However, one beautiful thing I saw time and again was life surviving where it ought not. A Japanese maple unable to root itself in the rock sprouted in a small trickle of water with no soil and was particularly noteworthy.

I only made it to one lake, but up from its depths came a plant looking like four-leaf clovers. It was so odd, I took several pictures attempting to convey the lake was filled with this plant.

The skeleton of a rusted bridge and some old work equipment also rises from this eerie lake.

I see why Georgia is a favorite place for film directors. The locations are so ripe for storytelling. I could imagine this lake being used in the stillness of a scene either of contemplation or perhaps an entrance to another world.

The first and only peach tree I have seen in Georgia was found in a hollowed-out stone building with iron bars. It looked like the peaches were in jail.

I think this place could also work for NASA if it were not for all the rare species. This place would surely lend itself to a rover like the ones on Mars.


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