Panola Mountain 'morphs' into vivid red landscape

The Good Day feature team made a few New Year’s resolutions for 2020, and one of them was to visit at least one state park every month for the entire year.  Last month, we reached new heights at Etowah Indian Mounds State Historic Site in Cartersville. Now, we’re doing some climbing again — this time, up a granite outcropping that undergoes a colorful transition this time of year.

We spent the morning exploring Panola Mountain State Park, located on more than 1,600 acres in Stockbridge and part of the Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area.  

Home to a pair of lakes, 25 miles of hiking trails, tree-climbing programs, and an archery range, the real star of the state park its the 100-acre granite outcropping known as Panola Mountain, which is carefully preserved and contains a unique ecosystem of plants and wildlife.  

This time of year, the rare and stunning diamorpha begins blooming — you’ll know it when you see the vivid red succulent leaves in shallow pools of water on the mountain. 

The Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area, by the way, is one of only three such designated areas in the state. It also includes Arabia Mountain (another granite outcropping featuring the red diamorpha), the Flat Rock Archives, and the Monastery of the Holy Spirit, home to Trappist Monks.   

Panola Mountain State Park is located at  2620 Highway 155 Southwest in Stockbridge, straddling both Henry and Rockdale Counties.  

Park hours are 7:00 a.m. until dark daily, and office hours are 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. daily.  Admission to the park is free with a $5 parking fee.